American distributor House of Films acquired the rights to the film.
Local film Sumpahan Jerunei may not have done well in the domestic market, but the film has received tremendous love from international audiences.
First, it was the accolades, winning numerous awards at the Florence Film Awards and the European Cinematography Awards. Now, it has just been announced that the film has been picked up by American distributor House of Films.
House of Films has bought over the rights and is currently screening it at the American Film Market for international buyers until 5 November.
Datin Wendy Wong, the movie’s co-producer, is over the moon about the movie’s international success. However, she revealed that the success did not come easy, especially when taking into account local audiences’ reception to the movie.
According to Wong, Sumpahan Jerunei had to fight off competition from Hollywood blockbusters such as Barbie, Oppenheimer, and Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning Part 1 when it was released last July.
In fact, the movie was only screened for one month in local cinemas before having to make way for international movies.
“Everybody told us that we were ‘daring’ (for releasing on the July slate) but actually we didn’t have any choice.
“We could have released the movie earlier and the collection might be more as we have such a strong lineup of cast members, but we are still grateful with all the achievements now,” said Wong.
Having said that, she was certainly surprised when House of Films decided to acquire the rights to her movie since they are known to be picky with its content.
“House of Films is a very prominent name and they are very selective, they don’t just simply pick up any films.
“And this is what we wanted as well because it’s part of our objective to promote Malaysia to the international market as a travel destination as well as promoting our own films to the masses.”
What is Sumpahan Jerunei about?
Sumpahan Jerunei tells the story of the Melanau tribe in Sarawak, focusing on the burial rituals of the tribes’ elites. Its main character, Dr. Sani (Bront Palarae) gets a glimpse of this after going for an expedition in Sarawak to look for his missing wife.
During their trip, Dr. Sani and his expedition crew experience hallucinations and nightmares.
The film boasts an impressive set of cast which includes Bront Palarae, Tony Eusoff, Amerul Affend, and Ruminah Sidek.
According to Wong, the film took two years to complete, as the material required extensive research on the Melanau tribe.
Fortunately, the Sarawak’s Council for Native Customs and Traditions and the Sarawak’s Ministry of Tourism, Creative Industry, and Performing Arts were generous with their contributions. They worked together with the filmmakers to make the film happen.
Their efforts clearly paid off as the film has been making waves internationally. We are proud of the film and the entire cast!