Since the first feature-length animation made in 1998, the local animation industry has been on a steady rise in pushing boundaries and enhancing its quality over a short span of a decade. Although the annual output of Malaysian feature-length animations pales in comparison to its live counterpart, there is an emerging group of homegrown talents and studios that have already proven themselves in smaller arenas. Despite the box office reception that still leaves much to be desired, the animation industry have seen several success stories and has garnered international attention with the encouragement by the government through infrastructure and funding. Although there is still many a ways to go, there is confidence that Malaysia will be on the animation map, with more passion, dedication and support from audiences to see a homegrown brand of animation.
As KRU Studio’s is making its foray into animation with “Ribbit”, it begs the question if one of the most financially-backed production studios would be able to set new milestones for the Malaysian animation scene that can inspire and motivate more live-action studios to take up the banner of promoting this ever-growing industry.
With that in mind, we look for the top grossing animations made in Malaysia to date, and hope that this will be a sign of new beginnings to come.
5. War of the Worlds: Goliath (2012)
“War of the Worlds: Goliath” is a hybrid of 2D drawn characters and 3D models as an imagined sequel to H.G Well’s “War of Worlds”, when Earth is prepared for a second invasion by the Martians. While the design work was contributed by local and foreign talents, it was mainly produced through a collaboration of studios under the locally based Tripod Entertainment Group. Originally intended for a DVD-only release before it was turned into a 3D Stereoscopic showcase meant to be seen in cinemas, “War of the Worlds: Goliath” won the Best 3D Feature award at the Los Angeles 3D Film Festival, against odds from “Madasgascar 3” and “ParaNorman”. Upon its triumphant return to Malaysia, it began screening in 52 cinemas for 2 weeks, and made RM0.28 million at the local box office.
4. Putih (2001)
Adapted from the classic tale of “Bawang Merah Bawang Putih”, “Putih” was the third animation feature that was ever produced in Malaysia. Made through the rigorous method of hand drawn frames when computer generated graphics was still not widely available, it took the 30 artists from Fine Animation studio more than 440,000 sheets of paper and 240 pencils to complete. Voiced by a stellar cast of Erra Fazira as the titular character, M. Nasir, who also composed much of the music and songs in it, and a killer performance by Wan Maimunah as the devious Mak Kundur, “Putih” was able to bring RM0.39 million from the 25 cinemas it ran in.
3. Bola Kampung The Movie (2013)
After creating a hit children’s television series, Animasia Animation wanted to take a step further into the third dimension with CGI for their feature-length spinoff. This was done with the help of a local studio by the name Young Jump Animation, making “Bola Kampung The Movie” the first CGI feature in full 3D stereoscopic for the Cheras studio. Also given new voices through stars such as Datuk Aznil Nawawi, Ezlynn, Afdlin Shauki, Marsha, Deanna Yusoff and Douglas Lim, “Bola Kampung The Movie” was able to score a RM0.61 million goal from box offices, after it had finished its four week run in 70 cinemas.
2. Seefood (2012)
After impressing the Al-Jazeera Children’s Channel with a trailer for the “Saladin” animated series, local studio Silver Ant was supported by the Multimedia Development Corporation (MDec) to begin work on their first feature-length animation – about a shark who goes on land to save a captured friend. Often described as a Malaysian’s take of “Finding Nemo”, with local flavours and talents voicing as the underwater fauna, “Seefood” would take a chunky bite out of the Malaysian box office with RM2.36 million just from 12 weeks in 68 cinemas.
1. Geng: Pengembaraan Bermula (2009)
When director Mohd Nizam Razak and his two friends pitched this animation feature about a boy who returns to his grandfather’s village for an authentic village experience to Les’Copaque Production in Shah Alam, it was intended to be a low-budget venture that required the least amount of manpower to produce. With supporting funds from the Multimedia Development Corporation (MDec), MIMOS, the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation and the Ministry of Tourism, some 40 animators went to work on “Geng: Pengembaraan Bermula” with software and hardware acquired from Low Yat Plaza. Little did anyone expect that “Geng: Pengembaraan Bermula” would be the start of a new adventure for Malaysian animation.
Opening to much fanfare in 55 cinemas nationwide on 12 February 2009, “Geng: Pengembaraan Bermula” would rake in a tremendous RM6.3 million by the end of its 49 days run. It is not only the highest grossing Malaysian animation to date but also the highest grossing local production for the year of 2009.
The success of “Geng” also kickstarted the “Upin & Ipin” animated series, that would continue to be produced by Les’Copaque Production, and since then “Geng” has been distributed to other countries in the region.