The Jakarta Post
Silver screen adaptation: Keluarga Cemara (Cemara Family) is an adaptation of the highly acclaimed 1990s television series of the same name. The series took inspiration from Arswendo Atmowiloto’s short stories published in Hai magazine in the 1980s. (Courtesy of Visinema Pictures /-)
Indonesian film studios are trying to charm moviegoers through nostalgia, with movie spin-offs and remakes. In the end, however, most people will judge films based solely on quality.
Ferry Yawanata remembered the first time he watched the highly acclaimed drama Ada Apa Dengan Cinta? (AADC?, What’s up with Cinta?) in 2002. He was still single and had just graduated from college.
In 2016, Ferry went to the cinema with his wife to watch the sequel AADC2?, and just recently he watched Milly & Mamet, a movie spin-off centering on the supporting characters in AADC? with Sissy Precillia and Dennis Adishwara in the respective title roles.
Just like Ferry, the characters of Milly and Mamet have grown up. The nerdy student Mamet is now married to his high school sweetheart, Milly, and has a toddler named Sakti. The movie follows the couple as they juggle their married life and professional careers.
Ferry enjoyed the drama and comedy offered by Milly & Mamet, but he felt the movie missed one important ingredient.
“The connection between Milly & Mamet and AADC? was largely gone,” Ferry said. “So I didn’t really feel the nostalgia,” the father-of-two said.
A still from 'Milly & Mamet.' (Starvision/File)
Cinematic nostalgia is what Ferry, and perhaps many moviegoers, looked for when they bought tickets for Milly & Mamet, directed and written by Ernest Prakasa. But this is not the case for some other moviegoers, like Puntadewa Rahadi.
“Before deciding to watch a movie, I usually read its synopsis, watch the trailer, find out the movie’s director and producer,” the 23-year-old said. “I’m not interested in watching only spin-off or remakes.”
Judging Milly & Mamet as a standalone cinematic work, Puntadewa applauded the movie for its interesting family-centered story.
In the last few years, movie remakes, spin-offs as well as movie adaptations of TV series have dominated the Indonesian movie industry.
This trend is but without reason. Indonesia’s biggest box office hit in a decade was Warkop DKI Reborn, a modern remake of comedy movies popular in 80s and 90s. It recorded 6.85 million viewers in 2016 and its sequel, Warkop DKI Reborn Part 2, gained 4 million viewers in the following year.
Currently, there are two movies in theaters trying to replicate the critical and commercial success of their predecessors. The first is Lagi-Lagi Ateng (Ateng again) inspired by the movies of 1960s iconic comedy duo, Ateng and Iskak.
The second is Keluarga Cemara (Cemara’s family), a silver screen adaption of a TV series of the same name that first aired in 1996. Directed by Yandy Laurens, the film follows the struggle of Abah (Ringgo Agus Rahman) and his family following his bankcruptcy. They leave the comfort of life in Jakarta to start a humble life in a village.
For Jeffri Kaharsyah, 27, Keluarga Cemara reminded him of the TV series that he watched when he was still in elementary school.
“I was interested in watching the movie because I know some of the people behind it, and the track record of the filmmaker. People wrote good reviews about it,” he said.
Another moviegoer, Alifian Afas Sawung Aji, 25, said Keluarga Cemarapresented a simple and relatable family story just like its TV series, which he watched with his mother back when he was still eight years old.
“The movie brought the story into modern times while still respecting the legacy of its TV series,” the 25-year-old said.
Last year, some spin-offs and remakes made it into Indonesia’s 10 best-selling movies list.
Horror remake, Suzanna: Bernapas Dalam Kubur (Suzanna: Breathes from the grave), ranked second with 3.3 million viewers. Other successful spin-offs and remakes included Si Doel the Movie, an adaptation of a hit TV series in the 90s, Si Doel Anak Sekolahan (Doel, the student), came in fourth position with over 1.75 million viewers.
Continuing the legacy: The original cast of the 1990s television sitcom Si Doel Anak Sekolahan (Doel the School Boy), Rano Karno (center), Suti Karno (left) and Maudy Koesnaedi, enjoyed a hugely popular year with Si Doel the Movie. (Courtesy of Falcon Pictures/-)
The Wiro Sableng series of novels by Bastian Tito was adapted into a popular TV series in the 90s, and last year its silver-screen adaptation hit the cinema. Wiro Sableng the movie took seventh place on the 2018 box office list with 1.55 million viewers.
“There is no concrete formula that will make a movie sell well. Some will succeed while the rest will fail. Suzanna and Pengabdi Setan [Satan’s slave] are among the adaptations that met expectations,” film critic Benny Benke told The Jakarta Post.
Benny, however, said a remake’s ability to make audiences recollect the original movie played an important role in the remake’s success.
“The memories draw viewers’ attention. That’s what happen with Warkop DKI Reborn,” he said.
He mentioned Benyamin Biang Kerok, an adaptation of a comedy movie from 1972, as one of the remakes that failed to charm audiences. The movie flopped, attracting only 390,966 viewers last year.
Benny suggested the main actor Reza Rahadian failed to capture the people’s collective memory of the Betawi artist Benyamin Sueb.
This article was originally published in The Jakarta Post's print edition on Jan. 12, 2019, with the title "Movie spin-offs, remakes keep trending despite mixed results".