Formed on July 22, 1998, MediaCorp Raintree Pictures is the pioneering local film production company in Singapore. The company produces and distributes both local films and features made in the region. Even though the company had expanded into films made in other languages, Chinese language films remain as the bulk of the company's yearly output.
Raintree Pictures was incorporated in 1998 as the film production subsidiary of the Television Corporation of Singapore (TCS), the corporation that is presently known as MediaCorp Pte Ltd. The raintree, a tropical plant, represents the Asian heritage of the company, as a “symbol of the Asian product” that the company aims to produce. Daniel Yun, the vice-president of TCS' Production 5, was appointed as the chief executive officer of Raintree Pictures.
In a joint production with Singaporean auteur Eric Khoo's Zhao Wei Films, the company started producing its first film, Liang Po Po – The Movie (1999) in 1998. In its early years, Raintree Pictures produced only Chinese language films. Thereafter, Raintree Pictures expanded into producing films in English as well as other languages through collaborating with companies in the region. Raintree Pictures is also a film distributor of full-length features in the region and Australia, including the multiple award-winning The Home Song Stories (2007), as well as the recent Chinese blockbuster, Bodyguards and Assassins (2009).
Overthe years, the film production company has experienced its fair share of hits and misses. Liang Po Po – The Movie achieved box office takings of S$3.03 million, was an exception rather than the rule. Most of Raintree’s earlier films did not do well at the box office. 2000 AD (2000), Raintree Pictures' first regional co-production, made only S$715,600 in ticket sales. The Truth About Jane and Sam (2000) failed to recover its S$1.2 million production costs at the box office though the film eventually broke even through video distribution. Chicken Rice War (2000), The Tree (2001) and One Leg Kicking (2001) were attempts at producing distinctly local films but these films reaped little success with the local audience, unlike its maiden film Liang Po Po – The Movie. The lesson Raintree learnt from these movies was clear - overselling the local elements of such films could undermine their appeal to both local and regional audiences.
Taking a leaf from earlier failures, the company has since moved towards more universal themes in its films, focusing on co-productions with the other film companies in the region. Some of these investments proved to be astute and the company made a breakthrough in 2002. Raintree Pictures scored two hits through the films, I Not Stupid (2002) and The Eye (2002). The former earned over S$3.8 million while The Eye reaped S$1.98 million at the local box office. Both films enjoyed considerable success abroad as well; The Eye has been distributed to 25 countries while I Not Stupid became the first Singaporean film to be screened in Hong Kong.
These successes paved the way for the increase in Raintree's co-productions in the following years. Some of the films that the company had produced or co-produced have received criticial acclaim. Homerun (2003) won six awards while Infernal Affairs II (2003) was awarded the Best Film award at the Hong Kong Film Critics Society Awards in 2003, along with more than five other awards. More recently, the 2007 feature, Protégé, received two awards at the Hong Kong Film Awards in 2008.
Raintree's approach to film production closely resembles the Hollywood studio system because of its combination of mainstream fare with intensive marketing campaigns. Even though MediaCorp Raintree Pictures is no longer the sole film production company in Singapore, the strength of the company's marketing platform and its partnerships with other Asian and Australian production companies grants it significant importance and standing in both the local and regional film industry. At present, Raintree Pictures aims to co-produce international blockbusters with popular stars in the region.
After 11 years as the managing director of Raintree Pictures, Yun resigned from his position in 2009. His last day in the company was September 10, 2009, and Chang Long Jong, MediaCorp's deputy chief executive in television, became his interim replacement. On October 21, 2009, MediaCorp Raintree Pictures announced the appointment of Man Shu Sum as the new managing director of the film production company. Man was the former CEO of Mark Burnett Productions Asia. He took over the reins at Raintree in December 2009.
Production company – Filmography
2009 : The Warrior and the Wolf (also known as Lang zai ji)
2009 : The Wedding Game (also known as Da xi shi)
2008 : Sing to the Dawn
2008 : Painted Skin (also known as Wa pei, Hua Pi)
2008 : 12 Lotus
2008 : Rule Number One (also known as Dai yat gaai)
2008 : The Leap Years
2007 : The Tattooist
2007 : Brothers (also known as Hing dai, Xiong di)
2007 : Protégé (also known as Moon to)
2006 : I Not Stupid Too (also known as Xiaohai bu ben 2)
2005 : The Maid
2005 : I Do, I Do
2005 : One Last Dance
2004 : The Best Bet (also known as Tu ran fa cai)
2004 : The Eye 2 (also known as Gin gwai 2, Jian gui 2)
2003 : Infernal Affairs (also known as Mou gaan dou II, Wu jian dao 2)
2003 : Turn Left, Turn Right (also known as Heung joh chow heung yau chow, Xiang zuo zou xiang you zou)
2003 : Homerun (also known as Pao ba hai zi)
2002 : The Eye (also known as Gin gwai)
2002 : I Not Stupid (also known as Xiaohai bu ben)
2001 : One Leg Kicking
2001 : The Tree (also known as Haizi shu)
2000 : Chicken Rice War (also known as Jiyuan qiaohe)
2000 : 2000 AD (also known as Gong yuan 2000 AD, Gung yuen 2000 AD)
1999 : The Truth About Jane and Sam (also known as Zhen xin hua, Zun sum wah)
1999 : Liang Po Po - The Movie (also known as Liang Po Po chong chu jiang hu)
Ho, Karl. (2002, 22 June). An eye on the Asian film market. The Straits Times. Retrieved February 14, 2011, from NewspaperSG.
Internet Movie Database (IMDB). (2009). Mediacorp Raintree Pictures. Internet Movie Database. Retrieved December 29, 2009 from http://www.imdb.com/company/co0029982/.
Lui, John. (2009, 8 July). Fewer flicks, more frights. The Straits Times. Retrieved November 23, 2009 from Factiva database.
Lui, John. (2009, 13 August). Raintree head quits in a shock move. The Straits Times. Retrieved November 23, 2009 from Factiva database.
MediaCorp Raintree Pictures. (2009). MediaCorp Raintree Pictures. Retrieved December 29, 2009 from http://www.mediacorpraintree.com/.
Today. (2008, 15 July). When Daniel Yun took over the helm at MediaCorp Raintree Pictures 10 years ago... Today (Singapore). Retrieved February 14, 2011, from NewspaperSG.
Today. (2008, 16 July). Branching out: a selected timeline. Today (Singapore). Retrieved November 23, 2009 from Factiva database.
Today. (2008, 16 July). The raintree is one of the most common trees in Singapore, easily recognised by.... Today (Singapore). Retrieved February 14, 2011, from NewspaperSG.
Tong, Kevin. (1998, 8 August). Got a story? Climb on-board Raintree. The Straits Times. Retrieved February 14, 2011, from NewspaperSG.
Van Miriah, Cara. (2008, 23 July). Raintree keeps on growing. The Straits Times. The Straits Times. Retrieved November 23, 2009 from Factiva database.
The information in this article is valid as at 2010 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.