Shot in Singapore

SINGAPORE - Going out to catch a Singapore movie in the cinemas? The good news is that this year, there will be more movies with local faces, places and situations compared with last year. The catch - as has been the trend over the last few years - is that most of them hawk all-too-familiar concepts.

Notwithstanding a slate this year that is awash in formulaic horror flicks and broad comedies, there will be a few works from Singapore-based film-makers going off the beaten track. Documentary about menstrual pads for the poor, anyone?

In the coming months, local production houses look likely to pitch up to 16 films to operators of mainstream cinemas. If all of them are taken up, it will mark a slight increase on the dozen that hit the screens last year.

Even after shedding the esoteric dramas and documentaries from the list - works less likely to get a theatrical release - there are still a dozen films remaining. This is a healthy number and follows on from three years of steady numbers, proving that the slump of 2009, when only six local movies made it to the big screen, was an aberration.

More local films had been making it to cinemas before the 2008 financial crisis scared investors off. Fear also made cinema operators wary of local products, leading to a sharp drop the following year.

The commercial giant this year has to be Ah Boys To Men II, the second part of the box-office record-breaking film that opened last year. Directed and co- written by Jack Neo, the first part of the comedy about Singapore Armed Forces recruits earned $6.03 million, edging out the Neo-starring Money No Enough (1998), which made $6.02 million.

The focus in the second movie, to be released next month, will move away from the morality tale of the ungrateful son and bad soldier Ken (played by Joshua Tan) to become an ensemble comedy featuring members of the recruit platoon, promises Neo.

It is not just the shaven-headed boys of Ninja Company who are coming back. So are Weijie and Zhixin, the couple played by Malaysian singer-actor A-niu and Hong Kong actress Elanne Kwong at the centre of last year's hit romantic comedy, The Wedding Diary. The sequel to the poor-man, rich-girl comedy, to be released next month, takes on a sitcom flavour: The couple are hit with money woes and the sudden appearance of Reese (Taiwan actress Cynthia Wang), who claims to be Zhixin's half-sister.

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