by Amir Hafizi

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Some film producers and hopefuls or wannabes in this country talk of taking their films overseas. In this case, it is perhaps best to do what you do best and tell stories only you can tell. Statistics do not help you make a better movie.

If you make movies based on statistics, you’re being insincere in your craft and your movies will be forgotten even if you hop up and down naked, wearing a sandwich board with the movie’s poster for the rest of your natural life.

Here are the stats anyway:
Comedies made the most amount of money from 1995-2011, raking in a whopping US$44 billion. Not in Malaysia, of course. We’re talking global here, man!

US$44 billion. That means you can buy around 44 years of every action figure ever sold in the world. Cause it’s a US$1 billion a year market, see? I can do comedy by awkwardly being pedantic. Maybe I should be a comedian.

Well hold your horses. Even though comedies make a lot of money collectively, having a 23.87% market share, each comedy film makes only US$26 million on average. This is because there were over 1,700 comedy films made in the past 16 years.

Compare that with adventure movies - all 486 of them - which grossed an average US$75 million each and a grand total of US$36 billion.

So make adventure movies, you say? Well, the ones that do make money during this period include the Star Wars Saga, the Lord of the Rings trilogy and Up. These movies all have budgets in excess of hundreds of millions of dollars. US dollars. Documentaries in the past 16 years only made an average US$2 million per film, and more than half must have been split between Al Gore’s Powerpoint Presentation (aka An Inconvenient Truth) and Michael Moore’s stuff.

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Not all adventure flicks sell. Movies like this one - Zokkomon - released this year, made only US$2,815 with only a reported 353 tickets sold. Guess which studio made the movie? Disney! Granted, it’s a limited release and most critics who saw it (Wikipedia lists only two - LA Times and Variety) voiced praise for the family movie. The other category that did well was action (US$57 million average gross). The rest of the categories include thriller/suspense, romantic comedies and horror made around US$28 million each.

Another way to compare are age ratings. PG-13 movies gain the most average gross (US$43 million), with the likes of Titanic, LoTR and Avatar falling into this sweet-spot. It’s not too sterilised for adults, and no nipple slips for the kids. PG and G-rated movies made an average US$37 and US$39 million, respectively.

Animation/Live Action types of films such as Avatar, Harry Potter Series, Star Wars all account for the category’s push as being number one in terms of average gross(US$150 million), beating digital animation (US$91 million) and hand animation (US$38 million). Live action movies, of which there were over 7,000 produced, made a whopping US$154 billion, but only US$20 million on average.

For creative types, Super-Hero movies outclassed the likes of fantasy, sci-fi, contemporary fiction and kids’ fiction, netting an average US$137 million.

So if any Malaysian filmmaker wants to sell-out and sell-out well, please make a Super-Hero Adventure movie using an original script, rated PG-13, filmed using animation/live action technique. Wait, did we ever do anything like that?

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Yes, it was Cicakman, which netted only around RM5.15 million, while Malaysia’s top-grossing local movie is KL Gangster (action/comedy) at more than twice that, at RM11.74 million.

So, maybe forget the money and go for creative satisfaction. Maybe do something you can be proud of, not what your accountant will be proud of.