Malaysia recorded an upward surge in 2003 in both the number of local film productions and their box office takings, according to statistics from Finas, the national film development body.

A total of 16 Malay-language films were released in 2003, up from 10 in 2003, while total box office takings for local productions reached $5.6m (RM21.36m), an increase of 16.3% from the year earlier.

Metrowealth's romantic comedy Cinta Kolestrol came out as the top film, grossing $1m over a period of 32 days. 2002's top film Gerak Khas: The Movie scored $790,000 over 34 days.

Another three productions of Metrowealth also cracked the top 10, including Mami Jarum Junior at ninth place with $368,000 in box office receipts. Mistik and Jutawan Fakir, which opened on Dec 18, tied for sixth with $526,000.

Skop Productions also fared well in 2003. Its Gila Gila Pengantin and Janji Diana were the second and third highest grossing film, raking in $757,000 and $658,00 respectively. The top three films had at least one thing it common: former beauty queen Erra Fazira was cast as the female lead in all of them.

As more local productions are being churned out, Finas approved five films to hit theatres in December, which was unusual by Malaysia's standards as only two films are allowed to screen each month.

Despite the intense competition, four of them made it to the top 10, including Grand Brilliance's Lang Buana (which came in seventh), Skop Productions' MX3 (eighth) and Mr Cinderella II (tenth) as well as Jutawan Fakir. Although the fifth production was not in the list, Nizarman's Gila Bola has collected $132,000 since its opening on Dec 25.

Box office takings for foreign films are currently not available.