Closer to home in South East Asia, there are quite a fair bit of Hong Kong movies filmed in Thai (which is also co-produced there). And even homeland, Malaysia, is not left out.
Malaysian Tourism Movies
Yes, how lucky we are to be living in a country that is liked by many film makers, from Hong Kong to Hollywood.
Do you remember the movie Entrapment? The one where Sean Connery & Catherine Zeta Jones acted during her peak. I thought that the twin towers stood out majestically here - well, for most of the times at least.
*Yes, the only time it was seen in not very good light was when the film makers actually merged the scene of the then Malacca river with the KL Twin Towers backdrop, depicting a lil bakcward Malaysia. Some argued that it wasn't done in good taste, which got the producers being criticised for it.
Nevertheless, it did bring international viewership to Malaysia, and I don't think it was that bad after all.
But let's look at those which did better, in terms of giving a better portray of the country or at least away from controversies.
There was the other Hollywood production, Anna & The King starring Jodie Foster & Chow Yun-Fat. Apparently, this movie made quite a good impact on tourism to the Pearl of Orient, Penang, which lasted for a few years.
That is quite something, knowing that this movie did just average in viewership & earnings.
Asian Movies For Malaysia
There was also the movie that drew many Hong Kong tourists to the island of Pulau Redang via the Chinese movie, Summer Holiday, starring Sammi Cheng & Richie Ren.
That is why, if you go to this island, you will tend to see many Hong Kong tourists there, up to today. In fact, many Malaysians discovered this island through this movie as well. So, Redang benefits from both local & international tourists.
*Apparently, this movie protrayed scenes from Langkawi & Malacca, making it look as if it's near each other. But, no one is complaining here.
More recently, once again, Penang (& Ipoh) is filmed by the award winning director, Ang Lee's Lust, Caution.
And let's not forget, even Bollywood is making films here - for example, the movie Don, starring the likes of Shah Rukh Khan & Kareena Kapoor. This Bollywood hit drew quite a fair bit of Indian tourists over especially to the serene island of Langkawi.
You would know because, you will find new Indian restaurants serving authentic North Indian cuisine. Hotel staffs also mention the peak period of the Indian tourists, something which was rather unheard of previously.
Yes, this movie is a score for Langkawi island.
As overseas film makers are making full use of beautiful Malaysia, credit must also be given to the Malaysian film makers. These are producers & directors with big intentions of promoting their movies not just in the local cinema circuit, but with bigger dreams of promoting their movie overseas.
And as Malaysia is used as a location shoot, it only goes well to promote the country once again.
The notable film would be:
The biggest film ever in Malaysia's film history, Puteri Gunung Ledang, produced by Tiara Jacquelina & directed by Saw Tiong Hin.
This movie made some waves, being the first entry for Malaysia in the Foreign Film Category (not nomination). And it has also gone to a few film circuits around the globe. So, at least Malaysia gets to be seen overseas, though the viewers may not be the same like the overseas productions.
There is another film that went round the film circuit. In fact, many others. But one that I watched is this:
The 3rd Generation movie featuring one of our bigger local acts - Nicholas Teo, Carmen Soo & Amber Chia.
This film used Penang as its background. The art direction of the movie was superb and Penang was a star here, if not for the rather blur script.
What Malaysia can do is to invite a sure hit blockbuster - sure, as in an action packed movie - eg. Transformers or even Batman for that matter. Of course, getting a movie like LOTR would be awesome, but that one is a lil more risky.
So for the first step, we should opt for a more safe one, especially if it involves any kind of funding to the film makers.
And by tying up with a global company, this will give a much needed global attention to Malaysia, and will definitely see an increase in the tourist arrivals.
And as for the local film makers (including TV shows), we should try to help promote their works to go beyond the country & to reach as many people/ countries as possible. This, we can learn from South Korea with their TV dramas & films. Of course, it would be great to make sure that there is enough talents in the film industry too, to promote good quality movies that will be liked by many.
With these 2 steps in place, Malaysia will be able to achieve its tourism goals yet at the same time promote the image of a Cool nation.
And true to the spirit, Malaysia Boleh! :)
*Amber Chia, Nicholas Teo, Saw Tiong Hin & Tiara Jacquelina are listed as the 50+1 Malaysians (from the 50+1 Malaysia book).