‘Suk Suk’ Enjoys Success With Sales and Hong Kong Box Office Launch

Patrick Frater

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The coronavirus disrupted both the festival and commercial careers of Hong Kong drama film “Suk Suk.” But as the film’s narrative suggests, a late blooming is still possible.

Written and directed by Ray Yeung, the film chronicles the gay romance between two aging men who had lived much of their younger lives hiding their sexuality. It had its world premiere at the Busan festival in October and competed for the Teddy Award in February as part of the Berlin festival’s Panorama section. But a planned series of other festival releases in key territories was abruptly halted when the COVID-19 outbreak became a global pandemic.

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The film’s sales agent, Films Boutique is now trying to develop a new festival strategy that stretches through 2020 and early 2021.

Films Boutique is also pushing ahead with license deals. In Asia, “Suk Suk” has been licensed to Cai Chang International for Taiwan, M Pictures for Thailand, and to Filmgarde Cineplex for Singapore. In Europe it has found homes with Vitrine films for Spain and Epicentre Films for France. It has been licensed to Vitrine Films for Brazil, and advanced discussions are underway for a deal in North America.

After a hiatus of more than two months, the film finally made its way into Hong Kong cinemas on May 28. It quickly earned $55,500 (HK$433,000), a combination of first day takings and a handful of previews in in the two weeks since Hong Kong cinemas reopened.

“The attendance rate is still quite low, but there have been very few releases of new, live action films, which meant were were able to get 60 screens, almost one in every complex,” said Winnie Tsang, head of distributor Golden Scene. The city has not had a local coronavirus infection for more than two weeks, but as the virus has died down civil unrest has returned to Hong Kong’s streets and the shopping malls where most cinemas are to be found.

Being a local film may have helped its launch, but Tsang says the gay theme still makes it a niche product. “We are definitely pleased with the opening. What has helped is that it is a good quality film and has already won a good number of festival awards.” Golden Scene had previously planned to release the film in early March, using the momentum from it Berlin outing.

“Suk Suk” was produced by New Voice Film Productions, by producers Michael J. Werner, Chowee Leow, Teresa Kwong, and Sandy Yip. It stars Tai Bo, Ben Yuen, Patra Au Ga Man, and Lo Chun Yip.

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