Ilo Ilo on way to turning in a small profit
HOME-GROWN film Ilo Ilo is on track to break even and might even garner a small profit, its director Anthony Chen said during a talk yesterday.
The drama about a Singapore family and their Filipino domestic worker was made with a relatively modest $700,000.
About 20 countries have bought rights to Ilo Ilo, which won the Camera d'Or prize earlier this year at the Cannes International Film Festival, as well as four Golden Horse awards in Taiwan last month.
To date, its gross earnings stand at $2.8 million. It has done especially well in France, and just crossed the $1-million mark at the Singapore box office, making it the best-performing non-mainstream film of recent times, The Straits Times reported.
The usual break-even point for movies is three times the budget. Chen said that given the $2.8-million earnings, it is likely to recoup its $700,000 budget, or even make a profit.
He was addressing an audience of 200 at the Asia TV Forum & Market and Screen Singapore trade event at Marina Bay Sands yesterday.
Its modest commercial success calls into question the standard belief that films are either made for critical acclaim or to make money, and cannot achieve both, Chen said.
He added: "There is a line dividing arthouse films and commercial films. I am not saying I have answers to this tough subject, but this film, Ilo Ilo, is a good example to use to talk about the issue."
Ilo Ilo opened last week in Taiwan, and has just opened in the Philippines. It will be released in Britain and the United States next year. The film will be released on DVD in Singapore during Chinese New Year.
Chen was also awarded a medal of honour by the mayor of Iloilo when he went to promote the film in the Philippines this week, Lianhe Zaobao said yesterday.
Chen also visited the Filipino domestic helper who inspired his film, Ms Teresa Sajunia, the paper said. She was given a "honoured citizen award" by the city.
Chen, 29, has not profited personally from the success of his film, earlier Chinese reports have said.
He does not own a house, car or any credit cards, he told Zaobao on Tuesday.
"Because my income is so low, I can't apply for any credit cards. But this also means I have no credit-card debt," he said.