Sunday 3 January 2010

Would you pay to see a Phua Chu Kang movie?

I have an announcement for regular readers of this column – all 18 of you, according to on the number of my Facebook fan page.

There’ll be no column for the next three Sundays because I will be away in Kuala Lumpur being a nuisance on the set of the new Phua Chu Kang movie.

Yes, Virginia, there is going to be a PCK movie – for real this time. It’s scheduled for release on 12 Aug 2010.

I’ve heard about movie plans for the fictional contractor since the ’90s, but cameras will finally roll tomorrow on the big-screen version of Singapore’s longest running sitcom, based on a script by me.

When I first landed the gig a few months ago, my greatest challenge was figuring out how to make the movie different from a TV episode.

What I don’t want is for someone in the cinema to stand up and complain: “I can’t believe we’re paying to see something we get on TV for free. If you ask me, everyone in this theatre is a giant sucker!”

Which is exactly what Homer Simpson did in The Simpsons Movie, possibly the most profitable movie based on a show you can still watch on TV for free.

The feature-length 2D cartoon grossed $700 million worldwide in 2007, even though it was basically an oversized TV episode that recycled story elements from previous episodes.

The first X-Files movie, also based on an ongoing TV series, did so-so in 1998, but it wasn’t a comedy.

The highly successful Sex & The City movie – already sequelised – doesn’t count because the comedy was produced after the HBO series had ended.

Not being a fan of Sarah Jessica Parker’s nose, I turn mine up at both the small and big screen versions, but asked a scriptwriter friend how was the Sex & The City movie different from the TV show and she said, “Bigger locations.”

That is something I wish I could do with the PCK movie, like Phua Chu Kang Goes To Alaska! (which was where the Simpsons ended up in their movie).

Unfortunately, this being a Malaysian production, the budget doesn’t even allow me to have Chu Beng and Margaret – apologies to Pierre Png and Tan Kheng Hua – much less locations outside the state of Selangor.

At least I have Ah Ma (Neo Swee Lin) and Frankie Foo (Lim Kay Siu), along with PCK’s tauhuay break-obssessed worker, Kingkong (Charlie Tan), all of whom weren’t in the recent PCK Sdn Bhd on TV.

But the main advantage of a PCK movie over the TV series? More Singlish and Hokkien than you can shake your yellow boots at.

So hopefully, you won’t feel like such a giant sucker when you actually pay to see it.

Maybe just an average-size one.

- Published in The New Paper, 3 January 2010

UPDATE: I’m scared to watch PCK movie because it may kill me