Malaysian-made 3D movie scores big at its US premier
CEO sees this as vindication Malaysian companies can make great global products
UPDATED: TRIPOD Films chief executive officer Leon Tan (pic) shared some good news with Digital News Asia (DNA). On Sept 22, his animated full feature film, War of The Worlds: Goliath (WOTWG), was recognized as the Best 3D Animated Feature Film at the Los Angeles 3D Film Festival at the LA Live! (also the venue of Monday’s Emmy Awards).
The 3DFF is an independent festival that attracts the luminaries of the 3D content and infrastructure industry.
Tan says that several films, including Hollywood films, were shown at the Festival. “I think we won based on popularity. I was told we had one of the largest turnouts (150-200), even compared with the more mainstream [big studios] 3D movies that were shown there.”
A publicist for the 3DFF tells DNA that besides WOTWG, three other movies were in the same category ie Paranorman, Madagascar 3 and Tinker Bell: Secret of the Wings.
The awards were judged by a secret panel of 5 judges from the 40 member board of the 3D Film Festival. The publicist estimates around 15,000 visitors attended the 3D Film Festival which counted the likes of LG Electronics, 3net and RealD among its key sponsors.
His was apparently the first Malaysian made movie to have been screened at 3DFF. Tan chose this festival as the US premier for his movie. The Malaysian premier is on Nov 15.
For Tan, this is just the latest buzz being created by what he describes as “arguably Malaysia’s most expensive animated movie and certainly pitched at a world-class level for international audiences.”
Indeed, he sees WOTWG as vindication that Malaysian companies can make great global products in a highly-competitive arena, “and we should not fear entering that arena,” he says.
If Tan's movie is a success, it will add a significant feather to the efforts of the Government to spur the creation of a world-class creative content industry in Malaysia.
At the very least Tan sees WOTWG as a calling card that declares Tripod a creative force that makes good products and is capable of more.
“We hope to trigger bigger and more ambitious projects with partners from around the world. I can safely say this has already happened, and with any luck we will have exciting announcements soon on Tripod’s next slate of projects,” he says.
The excitement around WOTWG will come from its Malaysian premier in November and subsequent release by distributors. It is undoubtedly a date Malaysia Venture Capital Management Management Bhd (Mavcap) is also waiting for, being a key investor in Tripod. Tan has worked tirelessly to promote the movie over the past few months and there is certainly a buzz around it.
This buzz is important as Tan claims that, for WOTWG at least, “we did not submit our movies for entry to these festivals – we were approached based on the buzz [that had been building], the Comic Con screening in San Diego in July, and so on.”
That “so on” includes an event Tan is really excited about, in October, the Sitges International Fantastic Film Festival, which is the “Cannes Film Festival” for sci-fi and fantasy films. “We were also selected ‘in competition’ in the L’ Animat category,” he says.
Just to side track briefly, Chris Crescitelli, founder of the 3D Film Festival shared with DNA, his reason for launching 3DFF: "I was fortunate enough to be in a research lab to see the invention of the first 3D television. I knew this was the birth of something special and created the 3D Film Festival in order to be a part of what I knew to be the new 3D future."
While it is noted that Tan has spent quite a bit making the animated movie, the marketing ringgit to promote it was scant. So, DNA asked Tan if participation at such film festivals helps with the marketing. Apparently, attending festivals as an alternative to promotions and advertising is not really a clear-cut substitute.
“The direct benefit of any major festival exposure is to increase distribution interest. Many distributors attend festivals to ‘discover’ and purchase movies,” Tan says, adding that they are great avenues to clinch distribution deals. “Of course, festival acknowledgement increases audience awareness, curiosity, and prestige of independent films that do not come from major studios –but I see this more as a by-product.”
With the buzz around the movie and with the expectations of Mavcap that it has funded a winner, is Tan afraid, deep down, that the movie may be a bust?
“Well, WOTWG has already made several critical accomplishments for our industry’s development and awareness in the global filmmaking community,” he says, adding that its future commercial success will be a function of many things. One key factor is how distributors position and release the film in their territories.
“In many ways, this is an area Tripod has no real control over – and this is the nature of the beast of independent filmmaking,” Tan shrugs. “But I do believe we have our international audience and they are waiting for the movie.”
Photo Caption: 3DFF Founder Chris Crescitelli (center) with (from L to R) Roger and Julie Corman and actresses, Olivia Alexander and Jena Sims from Attack of The 50ft Cheerleader
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