A local actor, Megat Sharizal (Shadowplay, Terbaik Dari Langit) has called local cinemas “dirty” and accused them of purposely sabotaging Malaysian films to make way for foreign movies. The past couple of weeks saw the release of a deluge of local films such as M For Mahathir, Suatu Ketika, Sangkar and also Gavin Yap and Glen Goei’s Dendam Pontianak.
In a now-deleted Tweet, one fan took to the social media platform to ask why the much-anticipated Dendam Pontianak was only screened at odd timings, making it difficult for working adults to catch it. Megat Sharizal retweeted it and said:
“This is an example of how dirty our local cinemas are! They purposely program local movies to ridiculous timing. Why? To ensure the collections are low so that they can take it out from their cinemas to make way for foreign movies. Anything we can do about it @FinasMy?”
This is an example of how dirty our local cinemas are! They purposely program local movies to ridiculous timing. Why? To ensure the collections are low so that they can take it out from their cinemas to make way for foreign movies.
Anything we can do about it @FinasMy ? https://t.co/NT1YG3a2v5
— Megat Sharizal (@Megat_Sharizal) September 13, 2019
Upon catching wind of the Tweet, I did some digging myself. The problem (to me at least) isn’t that the film is only screened at odd timings (because it really isn’t — a lot of the shows are after 6pm. The same, however, can’t be said about Suatu Ketika, whose showtimes are only suitable for people who have no work or no family), rather the limited locations/number of shows available in general.
For example, according to cinema.com.my, Dendam Pontianak, which was released on the 12th of September is currently showing in 84 locations across Malaysia, whereas It: Chapter Two, a film that was released a week earlier is still showing in 133 locations. Heck, even a film like 47 Metres Down: Uncaged, which was released on the 29th of August is showing in 113 locations.
You would think that it would be easy for someone who lives in say Damansara Jaya to catch Dendam Pontianak. After all, within the 3-5km radius of where I’m staying, there is GSC and TGV in 1-Utama, another GSC in Tropicana City Mall, an MBO in Starling and one in Atria Mall as well. However, none of those locations are currently screening the film. It’s also not screened in Mid Valley and Pavillion. Apart from MBO Atria and GSC Tropicana, the cinemas listed above are the so-called “main” cinemas in the Klang Valley. If it isn’t easy for someone in the Klang Valley to catch the film, one can only imagine the struggle of people living outside major cities.
Having said that, I’m not sure if theatre chains are purposely sabotaging local films to make way for foreign films. Recently, I noticed folks from Kuantan complaining that Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood wasn’t even screening in one cinema in that city, the capital of the biggest state in Peninsular Malaysia.
I think there’s a larger discussion to be had concerning the allocation of screens/timings/locations when it comes to local films and smaller foreign films.