Friday, October 2, 2020


The heat has not subsided for BEYOND THE DREAM's return to the cinema as it nears HK$ 15 million at the box office to become the "pandemic market miracle".

Director Kiwi Chow feels that if a movie is bad, it will not survive no matter how you support it

Kiwi Chow uses new comers Terrance Lau and Cecilia Choi to make BEYOND THE DREAM, starting with the story and characters.  In addition movies with star power now still may not be hits.

Kiwi Chow directed one of the stories in TEN YEARS
courtesy of

The Kiwi Chow Koon Wai directed, Terrance Lau Chun Him and Cecilia Choi Sze Wan starred film BEYOND THE DREAM (WAN OI) due to the pandemic delayed its release time and again. In early July this year it was finally released. Over 12 days its cumulative box office went over HK$ 8 million, but due to the third pandemic wave it was forced to stop. Although the air went out, its return to the cinema has been just as hot. So far its box office is already near HK$ 15 million to become the Hong Kong film "pandemic market miracle". Perhaps because Chow Koon Wai directed TEN YEARS, many made the connection with the current social climate with BEYOND THE DREAM. Chow Koon Wai felt that it was purely coincidental. The film finished its first draft in 2006 and completed its production before the anti legislation storm last year. Coincidentally it made the current Hong Kong people's emotions stand out.

BEYOND THE DREAM earlier was in release for 12 days but was forced to cut it short due to the pandemic. Chow Koon Wai described his emotions at the time as riding a roller coaster, saying the BEYOND THE DREAM was not the usual love movie. It was a love story about a mental patient and a therapist. The characters were not the usual. The story developed with twists and turns, and the ending was somewhat ambiguous. Many friends including investors did not have a lot of confidence in this subject. "I of course felt it would be a hit, but too many people said that the subject was extreme, the leads were new actors so the movie would face a lot of danger at the box office. I still held a sliver of hope, but when the opening day box office was only 100,000 or so, I was shocked and disappointed. Actually it really was just me feeling good about myself." Chow Koon Wai said that many friends and film critics spoke up for the movie through different channels, the box office rose by multiple folds. Everyday it was the box office champion, but then the third wave of pandemic appeared and cinemas had to close. "I was somewhat emotional. Back then TEN YEARS had a huge response and became a hit, its run was also suddenly cut short and it could not be shown. Today BEYOND THE DREAM was the same, the setback was tremendous." Although its return to the cinema still had its supporters and its box office headed toward HK$ 15 million, he felt that the momentum has weakened. With many big films like PENINSULA and TENET, BEYOND THE DREAM had fewer and fewer shows and reaching an even better performance was hard. The chance of reaching HK$ 20 million was very slim. However some analyzed that under the "gathering restriction order" cinema seating was cut below half, the tickets were discounted as well, thus BEYOND THE DREAM actually made HK$ 30 million. Chow Koon Wai said, "Wow, HK$ 30 million is a very exaggerated number. So now I shouldn't be disappointed with almost HK$ 15 million. It absolutely is a pleasant surprise, a 'small miracle in a down market'."

Many viewers have seen BEYOND THE DREAM many times, some even saw it 13 times. Chow Koon Wai did not feel that the audience from TEN YEARS supported him. Mainly the film was attractive. "I absolutely don't believe that because I made TEN YEARS they support me. When a movie isn't entertaining, no matter who you support it it still wouldn't survive." As for how is the film attractive, he quoted many viewers' reaction. "A female viewer grabbed me and said three times in a row, 'Your movie saved me'. The word 'save' is very heavy. At the time I didn't have time to learn about her past and story, how did the movie move her? However from her teary eyed and smile, I could see that she received a great release. Perhaps the movie touched upon certain people's past romance, the spirit of wanting to love but didn't dare to love." He was happy that the film comforted certain viewers' fragile side. "The movie listened to their voices. We know, we understand, we have ears that listened."

What was his original intent when he made the film, was it like others claimed that it had hidden meaning, criticizing society through the movie, or did everyone overthink it? Chow Koon Wai denied that he criticized society through the movie, absolutely everyone overthought it. "It was purely coincidental. The film's first draft was done in 2006 and completed its production last year before the anti legislation storm. Coincidentally the movie made the current Hong Kong people's emotions stand out. (Was its meaning twisted?) I don't want to use the word 'twisted', if it helps them with the emotions they face now, it isn't all bad." Why did he give up on using big stars and instead going with new comers Terrance Lau Chun Him and Cecilia Choi Sze Wan? Chow Koon Wai explained that everything started with the story and characters. "The story is about young people. Since star power now may not carry the box office, why twist it into a middle aged people's love story. (Is it because the Film Development Fund assistance is limited?) No, star power doesn't help me at all. I have analyzed the current Hong Kong market. Young Hong Kong viewers don't watch for stars, they watch for stories and word of mouth!"

Many have said that Hong Kong film is already done. Aside from political factors, the market shrinkage is a major reason as reliance on the domestic market makes existence difficult. However BEYOND THE DREAM has performed so well at the box office. How did he as a new generation director see the Hong Kong film industry's future? Chow Koon Wai admitted that the Hong Kong market is too small, but for so many years the domestic market has been able to prop up Hong Kong film, make investors money, and even sell movies overseas. Many Marvel movies have been big hits in Hong Kong, with over HK$ 100 million at the box office. Most recently TENET under the pandemic and cinema discounts still made several tens of millions. In the end the most important would be having good movies to bring back the audience's confidence in Hong Kong film. "Viewers watch foreign films instead of Hong Kong films because they have no confidence in Hong Kong films. However you can't blame the audience, filmmakers should take a look at themselves. Most people in order to enter the Mainland market made co-production films, thus censoring themselves and losing freedom. The audience can sense that. The carefree spirit of past Hong Kong films now has completely vanished! After losing that, the productions have been far behind Hollywood and Korean big productions; lacking the carefree spirit within, the production budgets were so low that viewers naturally left. Now many new comers are able to give me a lot of hope; viewers also starts to change, looking forward to slowly keep accumulating."

Chow Koon Wai felt that making a movie in the future would certainly be very hard. "Creating is difficult in itself, with the current political situation there already is a type of self inspection. Perhaps it already isn't self inspection, but an official inspection. I already know that the film censors have already taken action against two documentary films. They have already sounded the alarm. Now if you want to shoot the police, how would you apply? It will definitely be even harder in the future, but I didn't think too much. As a creators everything starts from the heart, if I am interested in any subject, raising curiosity and enthusiasm then I would write the script. I don't care about what genre the film is, the political situation, whether there will be censorship." In the future he would like to make a comedy, during the hard times he would like to relax himself and the audience a little. At the same time a tragedy is being considered. Even though it has the tragic feeling it still has hope amid hopelessness.

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