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In Southeast Asia, Malaysia and Singapore have long been overshadowed by Thailand, which is historically known as an international film hub. But last year, they stole the spotlight when they served as the locations for Warner Bros’ Hollywood hit Crazy Rich Asians.

As the English-language romantic comedy was set in Singapore with a rare all-Asian cast, the city-state was showcased prominently in recognisable outdoor scenes, including the futuristic Gardens By The Bay, the iconic half-fish and half-lion Merlion statue, and the breathtaking skyline of Marina Bay Sands. Such locations portray the city-state as a hip, fun and first-class place, which increased awareness of Singapore as a top international destination.

Singapore generally does not have financial incentives for foreign productions using the city-state as a filming location, but it did provide Crazy Rich Asians’ local producer with a production assistance grant, which went to support local talents and services. A large part of the shoot however, was in neighbouring Malaysia, which shares a similar culture with the former but offers a lower cost of filming and a cash rebate scheme.

Recent productions

Although Singapore is at a disadvantage for the lack of filming incentives, several international productions including Fox’s Hitman: Agent 47 and Drake Doremus’s feature Equals include the city-state in their multiple-country filming roster for its unique cityscape and efficient production crew.

The production services for these two films, as well as for the Singapore segment of Crazy Rich Asians, were all handled by Infinite Studios. The Singapore-based company also operates extensive production facilities on the Indonesian island of Batam, which is just 40 minutes away by ferry. Consisting of two soundstages, a one-hectare outdoor backlot and a 300-man animation studio, the Batam facilities have hosted several of HBO Asia’s original series, including Grisse, Serangoon Road and Halfworlds.

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