David Teo or Mejar David Teo of Metrowealth International Group (MIG) is currently the most prolific and profitable filmmaker in Malaysian movies or rather Malay movies.
Interestingly, this “cina pek” film producer who speaks Malay with a pelat cina (Chinese accent), is still the key player in Malaysia Malay film industry. Besides his first three big flops (“Syukur 21”, “No Problem” and “Mendam Berahi”), most if not all his other movies to date have been box-office success (collecting over a million Ringgit for each movie). His first successful movie is Mami Jarum in year 2002. So far, David Teo has produced 76 Malay films.
But his many detractors labeled his movies as “filem sampah” (garbage movies),”filem tak ada mutu” (films with no quality) and “buat filem untuk untung” (makes film for profits).
Strangely, if his movies are of no quality and trashy, then how come Malaysia audience (to be more accurate the many Malaysian Malays) willingly to pay to watch this movies produced by this Malaysia Chinaman? Are they implying these Melayu (Malay) audience are dumb? Anyway, David Teo has never claimed he makes Malaysian films. He makes MALAY films. His target audience is Malaysian Malays.
As what David Teo told The Sun paper, it is impossible to satisfy everyone. He said that he produces movies for the masses, not selected individuals (or should I say those intelligent arty-farty individuals).
Personally, this filmmaker knows marketing and not like many of his contemporaries. He knows what kind of films, the majority Malay film audience like to watch. It’s a win-win situation. The Malay film-goers willingly part their hard-earned money to watch and be entertained by his flicks. David Teo makes his money (million Ringgit), so he can produce his next filem Melayu (Malay film) for them again.
While some other “quality” filmmakers want to produce so-called art movies, or filem patriotik (patriotic films); which they themselves deemed as quality movies (yes, critically-acclaimed movies). Or should I say, films which have poor public response and equally poor ticket collection. Except getting some rave reviews from the media and awards at some film festivals. And if I’m not wrong, these reviewers watch movies for free. They are not the ticket-buying audience. In other words, these so-called knowledgeable and intelligent film reviewers are not David Teo’s films’ audience.
As he told The Sun, he understands the importance of money. He does not live in a fantasy world, like some film makers and movie reviewers. Any fool will know that you need money to survive in any industry. If your movies fail to make a profit, you will not have the funds to make your next film. To be precise, he always have film production going on to keep the cast and crew of Malaysia film industry cari makan (eke out a living).
Mejar David Teoh of Metrowealth has no problem with other Malaysians who want to keep making so-called “quality movies”, solely to showcase their bakat (talent) to garner rave reviews and win awards. I remember in one TV talk show, David Teo remarked,” These people don’t get the chance to hold the money (meaning profits), but at least they are happy to hold some plastic plaques (meaning awards)!”
Films By Yasmin Ahmad
Interestingly, no one yet writes a book about David Teo and his movies which consistently making million Ringgit. But, I know there is book called “Yasmin Ahmad’s Films” written by Amir Muhammad. (by the way, currently this book is clearing at 50% at Times Book Store, Pavilion). And I also know that the late Yasmin Ahmad made only five critically-acclaimed and award-winning movies. But not commercially successful. In other words, not that many Malaysians are willing (or are they not interested?) to cough out their money to pay and watch her award-winning films. Probably, many Malaysians have no taste lah.
Oh yes, many Malaysian artistes have already conferred Datukship, I wonder when this Malaysian Chinese David Teo Chew Huat who has contributed so much to our Malay film industry is going to get his title?