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S’pore Box Office 2022: Doctor Strange 2 Beats Avatar 2; Jack Neo Rules With Ah Girls Go Army

Jack Neo is untouchable.

Despite the torrent brickbats, Neo’s Ah Girls Go Army still came in at No.1 at the local box-office in 2022.

Ah Girls Go Army, which follows the exploits of a group of female conscripts, earned S$2.26 million, making it the year’s top Asian earner. Its sequel, Ah Girls Go Army Again, didn’t do bad badly as well: it came in third with S$940,000. (But they both underperformed compared to the Ah Boys to Men installations; 2017’s Ah Boys to Men 4 grossed S$5.05 million.) Neo’s auditors will be busy with The King of Musang King, which arrives on Jan 21, the first day of the Chinese new year

The festive screwball comedy Reunion Dinner and the Golden Horse-nominated road-trip drama Ajoomma are the other homegrown titles in the Top 10 Asian movies.

Overall, Hollywood fare dominated the local box-office, with Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness at No.1 with S$9.94 million, followed by Top Gun: Maverick’s S$8.51 million and Avatar: The Way of Water’s S$8.1 million. But Marvel’s Master of the Mystic Arts’ victory is short-lived: James Cameron’s sci-fi epic caught up with him in the first week of the new year: As of Jan 8, it has made almost S$10 million.)

Elsewhere, the Brad Pitt-headlined Bullet Train is the highest-grossing M18 picture with S$1.2 million, while Smile is the best-selling horror with S$585,000.

While Disney ruled its live-action line-up, its animated features — Pixar’s Toy Story spin-off Lightyear and the Jake Gyllenhaal-led comedy-adventure Strange World — while well-reviewed, failed to find its audience. Blame the NC16 rating slapped on them (for featuring LGBTG content) shutting out their key audience: the family crowd.

“As we recover from the pandemic, 2022 was regarded to be the year films return,” one industry insider told 8 DAYS. “Sadly, no one informed the audiences.” Especially those that aren’t sequels, comic book adaptations and remakes, ie original IPs — they all, whatchamacallit —underperformed. Look at Ambulance (okay, it’s a remake but a remake of an obscure 2005 Danish movie): it’s one of Michael Bay’s best films in years but not many people knew it even existed.

“[The Jordan Peele sci-fi thriller] Nope should have done better too,” our anonymous expert added. “Marry Me [with Jennifer Lopez] signals a bigger issue with the rom-com genre, where all similar efforts have bombed.”

Elsewhere, he thought Nicolas Cage’s meta-comedy The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent “could have benefitted better from a traditional studio release — a marketing campaign with a studio’s clout and budget.”

He continued, “No one knew what the movie is to make a purchase decision.”

Globally, Avatar: The Way of Water (US$1.7 bil) is No.1, followed by Top Gun: Maverick (US$1.48 bil), Jurassic World: Dominion (US$1 bil), Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (US$955.7 mil), Minions: The Rise of Gru (US$939.6 mil), Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (US$827.2 mil), The Batman (US$770.9 mil), Thor: Love and Thunder (US$760.9 mil), Water Gate Bridge, aka The Battle At Lake Changjin II (US$626.5 mil) and Moon Man (US$460.2 mil).

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