Come February first next year, we'll be seeing another Jack Neo movie on screen – Ah Girls Go Army – the fifth instalment in the Ah Boys To Men film franchise. As the title explicitly states, this film will feature the National Service (NS) experience of women in the army, as it centres on several new female recruits in the series.
Apple Chan, who previously appeared in Ah Boys To Men 4 as Lieutenant Zhang, will return to the franchise for Ah Girls Go Army in the role of platoon commander Lieutenant Tan, as Neo revealed in a Facebook Live video.
Several other cast members from the series are also expected to make a return. Many of the former cast members are likely to play a part in the movie or at least make a cameo in the film.
With a release date of 1 February, that gives everyone three months to rewatch all four Ah Boys To Men films before catching this one. After all, this is Singapore's most famous movie universe, and what's the point of a movie universe if you aren't up to speed on all the lore in it?
So what do we know about Ah Girls Go Army? Here's everything we know.
1. It takes place in an alternate universe
If you were wondering whether this movie was going to focus on the SAF Volunteer Corps or a version of 2019's Women's Boot Camp, the answer is no.
Instead, it takes place in an alternate universe where women have to be conscripted into the army because there are not enough men in Singapore. In-universe, it will feature the first batch of female recruits for the SAF.
Is this a portent of the future? Only time will tell.
2. MINDEF is not involved in this film
Surprise! This time around, MINDEF is not involved in the film. Director Neo wanted to make it clear that all feedback about the film should not go to MINDEF.
As a result, the military unit for Ah Girls is a fictional one. Given that the film takes place in an alternate reality, it's probably obvious that the Ah Girls of the film would belong to a unit that doesn't exist in real life.
3. The uniforms for the film are an entirely new design
The uniforms in the movie may look like the ones from Ah Boys To Men 4, but they're actually an entirely new design, said Neo. That's because they're for the fictional unit created for the show.
4. The shoot starts on 12 November
The start date for the shoot is 12 November. Why not 11 November? Well, that's because everybody will be busy shopping on 11.11, joked Neo on Facebook Live. However, he acknowledged that the pandemic situation was fluid, and so the shoot dates might change. He had also earlier stated that the shoot was projected to last for 25 days, so it will probably end in December.
Since it's the rainy period now, let's hope that there'll be good weather for the shoot.
5. The budget for Ah Girls Go Army is almost S$2 million
The budget is expected to be between S$1.6 million to S$1.8 million. In comparison, 2017's Ah Boys To Men 4 had a budget of S$2.7 million.
6. Ah Girls Go Army was originally envisioned as a web series
The film was originally planned as a web series, but it was changed to become a feature film after input from investors.
7. Over 600 auditions were reviewed for the film
The production team put out an open casting call on 29 September, asking applicants to post an audition video on Facebook or Instagram (which also doubled up as marketing for the film). On 23 October, Neo released his casting lineup through Facebook Live.
And Neo reviewed over 600 audition videos! Given that applicants had till 10 October to submit their applications, it means that an average of more than 50 videos were submitted every day during the casting call period.
8. Jack Neo actually didn't know the name of Apple Chan's character when she was cast
During the Facebook Live session, Neo confessed that he didn't know the name of Apple Chan's character — only that he knew her character's surname, which was Tan. He said that he was waiting for the scriptwriter to let him know what the name was.
Does that mean they're still searching for the perfect name for Chan's character? We're holding our breath to wait for what it is.
9. So many people applied for the open casting call that Jack Neo included 4 more roles to the original ten
Neo originally wanted to contact only ten applicants — but due to overwhelming response, he added an additional 4 more applicants for a total of fourteen successful applicants.
But since he also said that the script had been completed, where would these additional characters fit? You'll have to watch the movie itself to find out.
10. Here are the fourteen actresses (and actor) who were shortlisted in the open casting call and their respective Facebook Pages
If you want to know more about the fourteen actresses besides Apple Chan, here's the full list (with links to their social media pages).
Juliet Hor (AMM artiste)
Belle Chua Bei Er (AMM artiste)
Vanessa Tiara Tay (AMM artiste)
YY Yong Yu (AMM artiste)
Veracia Yong (AMM artiste)
Chloe (sings and does impressions)
Charlene Wong (influencer)
Farah Farook (actress and host)
Shirli Ling (co-founder of 8889 chicken hotpot)
Samantha Tan (influencer)
Eswari Gunasagar (Miss Vasantham 20111 finalist)
Karyn Wong (sings and hosts)
Kelly Kimberly Cheong (TikToker)
Xixi Lim (actress)
There was also one male actor cast, Glenn Yong, who was also revealed at the Facebook Live session. He plays the platoon sergeant in the show