Telling Our Story; Malaysia’s Animation Industry’s Potential To Go Beyond The Region

“The Malaysian animation industry is definitely heading in the right direction, and leads the way in SEA,” said Edward Barnieh, Netflix’s manager for International Originals, Kids & Family, APAC.

He told Digital News Asia that there are many great studios developing their own IP (intellectual property), and a global hit is not far away. He may have a point as 2019 has been one of the best years for the Malaysian animation industry, which saw three theatrical feature releases that were all box office hits.

Upin & Ipin: Keris Siaman Tunggal, Boboiboy The Movie 2 and Ejen Ali: The Movie earned US$20.60 million (RM85.81 million) at the box office. The movies not only showcased a capability to capture hearts at the cinema, but also the rising talent of a nascent, yet passionate, animation industry.

Although staking a claim at the international animation market may sound very scary but this might be Malaysia and Southeast Asia’s opportunity in changing ways in which films are viewed and distributed.

Streaming services like Netflix can allow local and regional animation to reach a wider international audience where traditional theatre distribution may prove more difficult. And we’re already seeing that at hand with Boboiboy movies and 2 seasons of Ejen Ali are on the streaming site.

Over the last few years, Netflix has invested heavily in animation, obtaining international rights to stream the films of renowned Studio Ghibli, plus a powerful slate of animated series and features from Japan and China.

Barnieh believes that for Southeast Asia’s animation industry to improve and make their mark, they need to tell their own stories. I, for one, very much agree on that. He also said Netflix  is open to taking in more SEA original series and features which also includes working with regional studios.

The streaming platform is currently working with a SEA studio on an animated original. Barnieh explained that Netflix’s main focus is to give creators the tools and resources to tell the best possible version of their story. He feels that government and industry should continue to work together to promote authentic Malaysian stories and find the best creators and storytellers in Malaysia.

What do you guys think? How do you think our animation industry can grow?

Comment what you think!