mm2 Asia, one of Singapore’s leading film production and distribution companies, is investing some $12.9 million (HK$100 million) in nine low budget features this year. They include titles from Hong Kong, Singaporean, Malaysian and Taiwanese filmmakers.

Unveiled at FilMart, titles include “Wonder Boy”, a story based on the renowned Singaporean musician Dick Lee and directed by Lee himself, and Hong Kong production “Vampire Cleanup” by Yan Park-wing and Chiu Sin-hang, which has been featured in the Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival, the Fantasia International Festival and the Asian Summer Film Festival.

Ha Yu, the Hong Kong managing director of MM2 and veteran actor, said the projects were on a relatively small scale compared with the big-budget productions typical of those involving mainland Chinese partners. Yet he said MM2 still regarded mainland audience as one of its targets. The theme of vampire in “Vampire Cleanup” instead of ghost, for example, was one way of ensuring the film could make it to the mainland without being categorized as the ghost film genre, which is banned in China, said Ha.

mm2 Asia was listed ion the Singapore stock market two years ago and has set about turning itself into a mini-conglomerate. It strengthened its competitive advantage by acquiring a majority stake in local 3D animation company, Vividthree Productions, and event and concert production company, UnUsUaL Group of Companies. The group also established its own cinema chain, mmCineplexes, through the ownership of five multiplexes in Malaysia. In November last year, mm2 also announced the proposed acquisition of cinemas in 13 locations in Malaysia from Lotus Fivestar Cinemas.