The mood is usually celebratory at local movie premieres. For the producer and director of the movie, months of hard work have paid off to see the film on big screens across the country. Then a dose of reality sinks in.

At the press conference, one of the most frequently asked questions would be: “Do you think your movie will do well at a time when the local box office is currently in a slump?”

For the past three years, box office collection for local movies are lower compared to the amount spent on local productions. Based on data posted on Finas, RM114.46mil was spent on local productions last year with a dismal RM76.61mil in box office returns.

The same situation was reflected in 2013 with a massive RM139mil spent and only RM85.34mil in returns. The last time local movies made bank was in 2011 with RM126.5mil earned against an expenditure of RM70.68mil.

Malaysian movie producers have often blamed the slump on lower cinema attendance and that audience mostly prefers international releases.

However, the Film Directors Association of Malaysia (FDAM) believes that the perceptions need to change.

FDAM vice president Zulkifli hopes to prove that the local movie industry has potential to reverse its box office slump through research. Photo: The Star/Low Lay Phon

FDAM vice president Syed Zulkifli Syed Masir hopes to prove that the local movie industry has potential to reverse its box office slump through research. Photo: The Star/Low Lay Phon

FDAM vice president Syed Zulkifli Syed Masir said its association is embarking on a series of research to provide data and statistics that show local movies have the potential to be lucrative investments.

“We have numbers to prove that Malaysians are not shunning the cinemas. In a country of 30 million people, over 60 million movie tickets were sold last year.

“Compare that to Indonesia where they have a population of 250 million but only 50 million movie tickets were sold,” he said during a press conference in Kuala Lumpur recently.

He cited the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) as the source for the data.

The data from Finas also showed that the overall amount for box office collection in Malaysia has gone up from RM692.17mil in 2013 to RM760.26mil in 2014.

Zulkifli also explained that moviegoers are not shunning local releases citing the recent success of Polis Evo as a prime example. The action comedy movie produced by Astro Shaw is the highest-grossing Malaysian movie of all time with a box office collection of RM17.36mil.

“It’s a local movie done right in terms of production quality, direction and storytelling. This shows that people are willing to pay money to watch a good local movie.”

But there’s more to the research than just numerical data. Zulkifli said research will also be done to deconstruct the mind of the average Malaysian moviegoer. FDAM will study raw data such as the time most Malaysians go to the cinema, preferred plot type and more.

“With this research, we change the perception of local producers from blaming picky cinemagoers to focusing on improving movie content.”

Ultimately, Zulkifli and FDAM hopes to see at least two Malaysian movie sitting pretty in the country’s overall box office collection. The last time a Malaysian movie made it to the top 10 list was in 2011 when KL Gangster beat out Hollywood productions like Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger.

He added that in 2014, locally-produced movies are the top grossing film for Asian countries like India (PK) and South Korea (Myeong-Ryong).

FDAM also hope to receive additional funding from Finas to complete the research. It will be done in five phases over a period of five years.