Ah Boys make big bucks

SINGAPORE - Jack Neo's latest film Ah Boys To Men has become the highestgrossing Singapore film of all time.

By the end of Monday, it had earned $6.03 million, beating the 14-year-old box-office record held by Money No Enough (1998), which took in $6.02 million.

Director Neo, 56, tells Life! over the telephone cheerily: "I don't really know what to say, except that I'm just very, very happy. Though I had a good feeling that the movie will do pretty good at the box office, I never expected that it would be this good."

Ah Boys To Men focuses on the antics of a group of army recruits during basic military training and includes scenes of Singapore at war. It opened in cinemas here on Nov 8.

Neo adds: "Money No Enough was in the cinemas for five months, which means it took us a whole five months to make $6.02 million. Ah Boys To Men took only fewer than six weeks to break the record, which is really great."

Though Money No Enough was not directed by Neo - it was directed by Tay Teck Lock - the film is synonymous with Neo, who wrote the movie screenplay and served as executive producer.

"I've waited 12 years to be able to make a film that can beat Money No Enough. I'm so glad that the day has finally come," Neo says.

He could not say how much more he expects his latest film to finally gross but adds that he is discussing with cinema operators to hold more screenings of the film in the coming weeks.

The movie was No. 7 on the local box-office chart this week.

Ah Boys To Men, which stars newcomers Joshua Tan, 22; Tosh Zhang, 23; Noah Yap, 19; Maxi Lim, 25; and Wang Wei Liang, 25, is a $3-million movie split into two parts. Part 2 is scheduled for release on Jan 31.

Asked if he feels pressure for Part 2 to do equally well, Neo says: "Yes, of course I feel the pressure. But I hope audiences will come and support that film because it won't be the same as the first movie.

"A lot of people told me that they wanted to see more of the relationships between the boys developed, and that's what they'll get in Part 2. It'll be about the boys bonding, arguing and then finding a way to come together again and be a united team."

Ms Prudence Eve Poh, 20, is one moviegoer who "really cannot wait" to watch Part 2.

Ms Poh, who is entering university soon, says: "I loved the first movie so much because I found it very funny. Since I've never been in the army, the movie showed me what army life was like, which I found new and interesting.

"I watched the movie with my boyfriend, who has been through national service, and he says that the brotherhood and teamwork reflected in the film are very accurate. I'm very excited that we can see more of it next year."

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