Known for always managing to capture the right essence that truly represents Singapore, filmmaker Jack Neo's first "Long Long Time Ago" film was a huge success in Singapore, topping the Chinese New Year box office in the country this year as it beats big Hong Kong films like "The Monkey King 2" and "The Mermaid".
Although the same exact success was not reflected in neighbouring Malaysia, it still remained its successful streak and proved to attract audiences in the country due to the strong ties and similarities both the countries share.
When the second part of the movie was released a few months later in Singapore, it then grossed SGD1.06 in four days, surpassing the opening week of the first part.
Creating a whole new franchise of his own, this of course comes as no surprise as Jack Neo is also known for spearheading another highly successful franchise, the "Ah Boys to Men" series.
But as that is temporarily placed on the back burner, Neo is now focusing on "Long Long Time Ago 2" and brings back the ensemble cast from the first movie which includes Aileen Tan, Mark Lee, Wang Lei, Charmaine Sei, Benjamin Tan, Ryan Lian, Suhaimi Yusof and more.
Cinema Online talks to the director who said that he's far from putting the franchise to rest, and tells us what to expect from the next sequels, if they get greenlighted, which might just happen very soon!
Cinema Online: "Long Long Time Ago 2" was released in Singapore a few months back, why is it only coming to Malaysia now?
Jack Neo: It's because we cannot get enough cinemas in Malaysia as the cinemas here prioritised all the big Hollywood movies. My initial plan was to screen the film in both countries together, but it's really hard with all the blockbusters – that's the biggest problem that we've always faced.
You've previously mentioned that you plan on making the third and fourth "Long Long Time Ago" films. Is that still happening?
We're still planning on it. Since there have been a lot of request from the public, we are considering on making the third and fourth films too.
But if you ask me, I would definitely want to do more because I only did two films and the story hasn't ended yet. I feel like I need to complete the whole story so that everyone can see the whole 50 year development of Singapore.
Jack Neo passionately talks about his movies.
How are you planning to develop the story further if the sequels are greenlighted?
We haven't come up with a proper plot yet, but it will definitely take place in the 80s and 90s era, and the future instalments would probably take place in the 2000s.
We wanted to show how the lives of people and society changes in each of the eras, how people were like before the existence of today's technologies like smartphones and tablets.
This is not just something for Singaporeans, everyone else in Malaysia and other countries too can also relate to the story as all of us have gone through the same period of time.
What about "Ah Boys to Men"? We heard that there's going to be a part 4 and 5 soon?
I can't give you any comment on that for the time being, as there is nothing planned on it. We do think about doing them, but nothing has started yet, so there's nothing that I can say about it.
Since both the "Long Long Time Ago" films have already been released in Singapore, are you satisfied with their performance and box office collection thus far?
It can be better, but I think the movies have already performed very well. The first one collected around SGD4.2 million and the second one is almost reaching SGD3 million, and it is still screening in Singapore
The director with two of the film's main cast, Mark Lee and Aileen Tan.
According to some reviews, many feel that the first part was better than the second one. What can you comment on this?
Those are critics, critics are too harsh, and they give low ratings to almost every single film. They are the minority and I make films for the majority which is the public, and from the response on social media, I can see that both films are very well-received by the public. I wanted to make simple and entertaining films that the audience would enjoy because by the end of the day, they are the ones who are buying the tickets.
Personally, which film do you like better – the first or second one?
To be honest, I like both parts, and I don't say this because I'm the director of the films. I like the first part because it has a lot of big scenes like the market scene, the flood scene and all of this required a lot of effort, and the people appreciate this effort. Not just because they are big scenes, but because of the emotional and artistic values of those scenes.
The second part involves a lot of good acting and they are all very realistic. I feel like many youngsters might love the second part more because it has a lot of comedic and sad moments.
"Long Long Time Ago" aside, what are some of your future projects?
I'm not planning anything yet for now, as I'm still in the middle of promoting this movie. I just came back from promoting this movie in Taiwan, and now we're doing a promo tour in Malaysia.
I hope that Malaysians will come to love this film as it has a lot of nostalgic elements which they can relate to.
"Long Long Time Ago 2" is currently showing in Singapore but will be released in Malaysia on 16 June 2016.