The Malaysian Film Industry in Numbers

By Negin Vaghefi

December 2021 STATISTICS
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MALAYSIA’S FILM INDUSTRY has great economic potential. Between 2012 and 2019, the total gross collection for both local and foreign movies shown at local cinemas increased from RM607.7mil to about RM1bil; this is indicative of a box office growth of nearly 78%, according to the National Film Development Corporation Malaysia (FINAS).

But with Covid in 2020, the country’s box office revenue plummeted by about 88.4% due to temporary closures of cinemas and movie theatres (Figure 1). Cinema admissions last year also decreased by nearly 89% compared to 2019, with only 1.3 billion visits across the country. Almost all states showed a similar decline, with Penang demonstrating the lowest drop (Figures 2 and 3).

Local film productions were also affected by the pandemic. Only 23 feature films were produced in 2020, a drop of about 50% compared to 2019. Interestingly, while the average ticket collection decreased by more than 80% during the same timeframe, the average ticket price increased – significantly – by 86.5% (Table 1).

There are currently 162 cinemas operating throughout the country, with Selangor having the highest number of cinemas (35) and screens (267). Perlis and Kelantan are the only states without cinemas. Penang has 11 cinemas, with 80 screens and 13,292 seats. The Golden Screen Cinemas (GSC) operates the largest cinema chain in Penang, with 28 screens and 4,236 seats (Table 2).

The horror flick, Munafik 2, takes the lead in Malaysia’s Top 10 grossing local films of all time, with a revenue of nearly RM38mil, followed by the supernatural-inspired comedy Hantu Kak Limah (RM36.2mil). Seven of the 10 highest-grossing movies were released in 2018 and 2019 (Table 3).

Data on the Top 10 foreign movies in Malaysia in 2020 by box office revenue indicate that Bad Boys for Life topped the list with a revenue of approximately RM8mil, followed by Dolittle (RM7.3mil) (Figure 4).

Based on a survey of genre preferences, Malaysians are more inclined to comedy, followed by family and action movies (Figure 5). But Covid has also altered viewing behaviour and media consumption. During lockdown, consumers relied extensively on digital media, TV programmes and video-streaming platforms for entertainment. According to the Malaysian Digital Association (MDA), Netflix gained 195% in sequential traffic in the third week of March 2020.

Likewise, visits to the streaming site Tonton increased by 232% in sequential traffic during the same period, while those who have subscriptions to Dimsum and the Asian drama streaming service Viu increased by 140% (Figure 6). A survey on Malaysians and their media consumption during the first month of MCO 1.0 indicated that action (56%), comedy (49%) and horror (26%) were the top three most-watched genres (Figure 7).

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Negin Vaghefi

is a senior analyst at Penang Institute. She holds a Ph.D. in Environmental Economics. Her research interests include agri-environmental economics, climate change, green economics, poverty and income inequality, and policy analysis.