KRU Studios' 'The Malay Chronicles: Bloodlines' to be released in March

By FARHATNAZ ANSARI | 24 January, 2011 - 11:00

KRU Studios' “The Malay Chronicles: Bloodlines”, which will be released on 10th of March, 2011 in Malaysia has been sold to more than 60 countries around the world. Norman Halim shares his excitement with AnimationXpress Asia Pacific, “It was a very fruitful experience because we have interest from all our distributors around the world. Epic Pictures, from the US, is our sales agent for “The Malay Chronicles: Bloodlines”, and they have managed to garner worldwide distribution. The international audience seems more interested in features that use English language”.

As “The Malay Chronicles: Bloodlines” is partly Malay, some countries consider it a foreign film. Some countries will have theatricals while some countries will directly go to DVDs while some may directly go to TV. Nevertheless, to-date it has the widest distribution for a Malaysian made film.

When asked which countries will have theatricals? Norman replies, “Middle-East alone covers 15 countries. Then of course Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei will have theatricals. We are still discussing with Philippines, Thailand and Indonesia. So I would say more than 20 countries will have theatricals. Some will be simultaneous release while others may release at a later date. The first theatrical will be in Malaysia and Brunei.”

About the challenging part in the film, Norman asserts, “The Malay Chronicles: Bloodlines was shot 90% outdoors, primarily in the east coast of Malaysia. The weather conditions proved to be taxing, with heavy rain that even damaged our sets. In addition the underwater currents, which were not within our control, made the water scenes with the ships that were primarily motorboats visually enhanced in post production even more challenging, as they were not seaworthy in the truest sense. Post Production also proved to be a challenge due to the sheer scale of CGI work that involved about 80% of the film”.

‘The Malay Chronicles: Bloodlines’ with its mythical characters, magical moments and dazzling special effects is packed with action that utilized the efforts of the stunt team from Hong Kong who have worked on Rush Hour 2 and Hell Boy 2..

‘The Malay Chronicles: Bloodlines’ tells the tale of Merong who is said to be the direct descendent of Alexander the Great, who was asked to escort a Roman Prince to marry a Chinese Princess on neutral grounds. Based loosely on the historical document entitled ‘Hikayat Merong Mahawangsa”, KRU has used creative license to adapt various items. For example, in the book there is a giant bird called Geruda but in the film they interpreted that not as a bird but as a group of people called Gerudans.

The script is developed by Amir Hafizi and Yusry KRU. “The film is set in 120 A.D but Alexander invaded Asia in 300 B.C, so there’s a difference of 500 years. As such we establish the link between Merong and Alexander by showing that Merong always wore this particular capsule around his neck. The capsule contains the formula to produce Archimedes’ death ray. It is said that the Archimedes ray was drawn in Alexanders’ time so this is how we make it tie-in together. We link the pieces together… but it’s not historical… it’s a fantasy”, explains Norman.

An epic movie requires budget for the elaborate sets, costumes and production. Norman asserts, “In ‘The Malay Chronicles: Bloodlines’, a lot of money is spent on production, set design and post production. We used animation & visual effects techniques to enhance the story by adding digital extras, elaborate sets and ships. We combine both real as well as CG created sets… we even established Rome & China here in Malaysia. In fact in our movie, it was a cold snowy winter’s day in China. It’s all done in CGI”.

With a wealth of experience in visual effects, including awards in the past, Wiryandi Widjaya is the VFX Supervisor. Meanwhile Yusry KRU is both the Director and the VFX Director of the film. The film’s promotional activities started this month and they have recently released the theme song, which was composed by award winning composer Edry Abdul Halim and performed by a renowned Malaysian singer, Anwar Zain. In addition to support the film’s promotional activities, KRU Studios will be publishing a coffee table book and releasing a documentary.

The VFX for the film is done by KRU Studios and Norman proudly shares, “Right now we have only 12 people in the dept so it took us 10 months to do The Malay Chronicles: Bloodlines, which has more than 1,300 CGI shots. We are recruiting more people and building our team. We also plan to have our own academy so that we can train future animators whether they are 3D VFX artists, stereoscopic artists or even cartoon animation artists. So what we have here is the phase 1 of lots more things to come like the training centre, dedicated lab for digital production and more sound stages”.

The film has an international version that will be 60% in English, where the narrator who tells the story speaks English, whereas for Malaysian version the narration is in Malay. KRU Studios has tried to make it local as well as global. “It is more suitable for the more urban and semi-urban domestic market, but we have tried to identify as many elements as possible to make more people relate to it”, Norman concludes.