The deal also marks the first international acquisition for Be Wild, a producer of Japanese films such as Kaza-hana, What the Snow Brings, Blood and Bones and more recently, box office hit Maiko Haaaan.
Tan has established a reputation in Japan, partly thanks to his last film 4.30 which was the first Singapore-Japan co-production. Japanese broadcaster NHK was a co-producer.
Meanwhile, 881 took the second place on home turf over its debut weekend. Opened on Singapore's National Day holiday (Aug 9), it grossed $293,314 (S$446,160) over four days which surpassed the combined box office of Tan's previous two films, 15 and 4.30.
The picture beat Jay Chou's directorial debut Secret which opened third with 20 prints, but lost out to Rush Hour 3 which was out on 58 prints.
With 34 prints, 881 was the widest release for a local director, bar Singapore 's most commercially successful director Jack Neo. Both 15 and 4.30 were on a limited release.
The release coincides with the Chinese Hungry Ghost month which provides the backdrop for the musical drama about getai. Makeshift concerts are put on to entertain both the living and the dead during the Hungry Ghost Month.
Backers include MediaCorp Raintree Pictures, Eric Khoo's Zhao Wei Films, Media Development Authority of Singapore, Scorpio East Pictures and Infinite Frameworks. Golden Village is the local distributor.
The picture will next open in Malaysia on Sept 6 through Golden Screen Cinemas.