Ah Girls Go Army

Source: mm2 Entertainment

‘Ah Girls Go Army’

Jack Neo’s Ah Girls Go Army has crossed $1.49m (S$2m) at the Singapore box office, making it the top grossing local film since the outbreak of the pandemic.

Released by mm2 Asia on February 1, the first day of the Chinese New Year, the comedy follows the first batch of female recruits going through national service because of a shortage of men. It is a spin-off from the hugely successful Ah Boys To Men franchise, which has spawned four films all directed by Neo, the most bankable Singaporean filmmaker.

“Despite the capacity limitations of cinemas and the proliferation of streaming platforms, our film has been able to find their audiences,” said Chang Long Jong, group CEO of mm2 Asia. “This is a clear sign that recovery is gaining momentum.”

Another local film to perform strongly over the crowded Chinese New Year period was Ong Kuo Sin’s Reunion Dinner, which opened earlier on January 20 and has since taken $669,000 (S$900,000). It marks the first co-production between Singapore’s Clover Films and China’s iQiyi made specifically for the festive season with a Chinese New Year storyline.

Singapore is one of the few markets that brought various Chinese New Year offerings from around Asia to its cinemas, including some day-and-date openings with their domestic markets.

Ah Girls Go Army was up against Hong Kong-China co-production New Kung Fu Cult Master 1, Taiwan’s My Best Friend’s Breakfast, China’s Only Fools Rush In and Malaysia’s Nasi Lemak 1.0. Moonfall was the only Hollywood title that opened during this period.

Two more from Hong Kong – Chilli Laugh Story and Table For Six – were originally scheduled, but were both pulled from release after not being able to open in Hong Kong as a result of a shutdown of cinemas.

‘Nasi Lemak 1.0’ rules in Malaysia

Neighbouring Malaysia shared a similar Chinese New Year lineup with Singapore. Distributed by Metrowealth International Group, Nasi Lemak 1.0 emerged as the top non-Hollywood film, taking an estimated $570,000 (RM2.4m) at the local box office since its opening on January 27.

As a follow up to 2011’s box office hit Nasi Lemak 2.0, the comedy sees controversial singer-songwriter Namewee (who also directed the feature) play a chef who travels back 600 years in time to perfect the nasi lemak dish while saving the Melaka Empire from falling into foreign hands.

Ah Girls Go Army grossed a further $358,000 (RM1.5m) in Malaysia and Brunei, according to mm2 Asia. A second instalment is already complete and being prepared for release in June. Reunion Dinner collected $334,500 (RM1.4m) in Malaysia, according to Clover Films.

Chang added: “Cinema attendances in Singapore and Malaysia have improved as the majority of Singaporean and Malaysians have been vaccinated, and there is better content on the screens. With the current travel restrictions and limitations on group sizes for social activities, the cinemas remain a safe and affordable source of entertainment for many.”

mm2 Asia is also a cinema operator, running mmCineplexes in Malaysia and Cathay Cineplexes in Singapore. The Ah Boys franchise previously generated $19.96m (S$26.8m) in Singapore from its four films, prior to the Covid-19 outbreak.