Hong Kong vid distrib Mi Ah bows film arm

HONG KONG — In an effort to infuse “new blood” into the local filmmaking industry, video distributor Mei Ah has started its own production company, Brilliant Idea Group, or BIG.

“It’s a young people’s movie company,” Mei Ah marketing manager Ken Yip told Daily Variety. “It’s very different from Golden Harvest and Shaw Brothers, though I have nothing against them or their films. But we hope to give a new feeling. We need new blood in Hong Kong.”

The goal is to make 10 films a year. The first offering under the new BIG label will be Ringo Lam’s Hong Kong-made $2.6 million actioner “Full Alert,” which is scheduled to open in mid-July.

Yip said reaction from buyers at this week’s Filmart, the Hong Kong Intl. Film Market, has been “above expectations.”

On the Lam

“It’s because it’s Ringo Lam,” Yip said. “He went to Hollywood and came back.”

BIG is the brainchild of 33-year-old Joe Ma, who helmed the hit “Feel 100%.”

The company has also signed up Cantopop singer and actor Leon Lai, the star of the award-winning “Comrades: Almost a Love Story,” and popular comedian Stephen Chau.

Yip said Mei Ah, which is looking for foreign investors for BIG, got into the production business because of the inferior quality of films it was being asked to distribute in the early ’90s.

“Everyone said the market is going down, so that’s when we go in,” Yip explained. “We look for a number of good quality movies every year, and except for the major companies like Golden Harvest, you can’t find them. And you can’t buy from just one company. If we can sell videos, we can sell in cinemas.”

Homegrown hits needed

Yip echoed the opinion of many in the business that if homegrown movies don’t sell at home, they can’t be expected to sell overseas.

“Our philosophy is that we should be based in Hong Kong, not Hollywood,” Yip said. “If it’s successful in Hong Kong, it will be successful outside Hong Kong.”

Mei Ah, which is chaired by 38-year-old Li Kuo-hsing, has already made three films this year, including the current comedy release “Ah Fai the Dumb.” Another Ma film, the romantic comedy “First Love Unlimited,” will open the Fukuoka Asian Film Festival in Japan next month. And “The Fruit Is Swelling,” the story of an 8-year-old who gets her wish of turning 18, features the 21-year-old Taiwanese actress Shu Qi, who won best supporting actress and best newcomer at this year’s Hong Kong Film Awards.

Back in March, Mei Ah announced that it would join a four-company consortium that would study the feasibility of establishing a video-on-demand service.

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