Upin Ipin propell Geng to Malaysian Box Office History, Les Copaque announces next

By ANIMATION XPRES... | 21 December, 2010 - 16:00

KUALA LUMPUR : What would you say when a dream, dreamt collectively by one convinced and benevolent producer, 3 young animation entreprenuers and 40 freshers straight out of animation school comes true, with their animated feature making box office history nationally?

Kuala Lumpur based studio, Les Copaque released its maiden animated feature film Geng (3D Animated, 90 Minutes) in February. Budgeted at US$1.15 Million + an additional US$ 18 000 spent on marketing, the film which stars the already popular characters Upin Ipin became an instant rage across Malaysia. The film released with 56 prints across the country, ran for more than 8 weeks and has at last count grossed around USD 1.8 Million.

Geng had some strong marketing around it, but word of mouth as well as the popularity of its characters resulted in the audience volumes that the film amassed. Says, M Safwan, (Desig) of Les Copaque, "Interestingly, the second week's gross was better than the first week and it just goes to show not only the anticipation, but the film we delivered to the audience worked with them"

56 prints is quite substantial for a country which has a total of 83 screens counting single cinemas and multiplexes. But then the makers knew they had a winning product on hand!

Besides being the first "Made in Malaysia" animated feature to hit the screens, as well as its Box office record, the film has several other firsts to its credit. Most important and interesting is how Les Copaque hit bulls eye by releasing a TV series around lead characters Upin Ipin, even as the feature was under production and Upin Ipin rose instantly on the popularity wave.

Says Les Copaque Managing Director Haji Burhanuddin Mohammed Radzi, " Before we released Geng, we have released Upin Ipin characters in the form of a TV series to make them popular. We began by releasing 6 episodes of 5 minutes each which were broadcast on TV 9 during Ramadan in 2007 and the characters instantly connected with the kids and got to their hearts. We got a rating of around 1.5 Million viewers per episode "

"The instant ratings of Upin Ipin resulted in us producing 12 more episodes in 2008 and we are now producing 42 more episodes for season 3. We always knew from the beginning that Upin Ipin's popularity would drive kids and Malay families to the movie halls as well and they did!" commented Haji.

"For the first two weeks, I was at the theatres every day and the audience was full of kids and families as well, in fact in some cases we had entire generations from grand children, mothers and grannies coming together to the cinema halls to watch the movie" shares Safwan. He added that besides Kuala Lumpur, Johore and Penang also contributed a lot to the film's B.O gross.

Internationally, so far the film is slated for release in Brunei in June, and Indonesia in September. The total number of prints for both these regions will be 20 and will carry subtitles in Bahasa Indonesia. Les Copaque is directly dealing with Indonesian Multiplex chains for the release. The company shared that talks were also on with an Indian company for releasing Geng in India.

Animation is a character driven business and the film as well as the tv series revolve around the characters. Team Les Copaque has left no stone unturned even when it comes to Licensing & Merchandising as well.

Products related to Upin Ipin include T-shirts, stationery items, accesories, soft toys, and back to school. Tshirts are among the most popular product lines with sales volumes reaching 15 000 + pieces. In terms of DVD and VCD sales, the amount has reached 25 000 units which sold in Singapore and Indonesian market as well.

For the TV series on Upin Ipin, the same were uploaded on YouTube and the ratings per episode average of 180 000 views. The Maximum number of views is 300 000. For International tv sales, Upin Ipin has been sold to Hilal TV Turkey and dubbed into Turkish language.

Not surprising then, that the next feature that Les Copaque has begun working on, is totally focused on Upin Ipin. The makers are exploring a 3D Steroscopic production for this and will be ready with their next by Mid 2011.

"Our next movie is called Upin&Ipin:Angkasa (Upin & Ipin:Outerspace), which is planned to be released in 2011. The story will be about Upin & Ipin and their friends's adventure to the outerspace.This time U&I will be the main actors as everybody loves them!"

Les Copaque was formed by Haji Burhanuddin to realize the dreams of 3 young filmmakers who were passionate about 3d animation (Mohd Nizam Abd Razak,Mohd Safwan Ab Karim,Usamah Zaid b Yasin). Shares Safwan, "For the first year of incorporation, we invested most of our time into researching the pipeline and optimizing the technicalities while learning on how to do business. By the second year, we hired more fresh grads, and started to teach them the pipelines. The reason why we did not hire experienced artists was simply because in their mind, to pull of a good 3D animated feature film with just 40 manpower and USD 1.15 million budget with 2.5 years time would be simply impossible. Fresh grads are more willing to learn and more optimistic. And that's how we did it and made it to the top of the Malaysian Box Office as well as TV ratings!"

Way to go!

Click here to access an interesting Case Study on the making of Geng!