Audience loud and clear for 'Overheard'

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HONG KONG -- Now that financial crime thriller “Overheard” has become the top Chinese-language film in China so far this summer, writer-director Alan Mak and Felix Chong are planning a follow-up that revolves around eavesdropping.

The Bona Entertainment-invested thriller took the top spot by grossing 80 million yuan ($11.7 million) in China since its release on July 24. The film also did well as the debut release of Distribution Workshop in Hong Kong, where it took HK$11.5 million (US$1.48 million) in 12 days, poised to knock the HK$11.7 million-grossing Chinese-language summer champion “Murderer” off the number one spot in the next few days.

“Boxoffice success is good, but the fact that we know we’ve made a quality film is enough,” said the film’s producer Henry Fong. "The film has a distinct Hong Kong feel to it, but the theme is universal, the same thing would happen anywhere around the world -- corruption, greed, going for shortcuts, breaking the law for personal gain. It proves that what matters most is the subject,” Fong said.

“Crime thrillers are the specialty of Hong Kong filmmakers,” said the film’s producer Derek Yee. “We’re testing the waters in China with this film, and the result is encouraging. But there’s no point in forcing a sequel only because the film’s a hit, we have to be sure of a good script. Audiences nowadays are smarter than that,” Yee added.

The writing-directing team of Mak and Chong isn’t interested in a prequel or sequel of the film either, but the duo is now working on an idea along the theme of eavesdropping as a follow-up.

“It wouldn’t be a prequel that involves the same characters, as their lives before what happened in ‘Overheard’ wouldn’t be dramatic enough for a story,” Mak told the Hollywood Reporter. “But we think there’s a lot to be explored about bugging and eavesdropping, and are developing a script around this theme.”

Mak is now writing an untitled quirky love story for Media Asia, which he will direct solo at the end of the year. Chong is making his own directorial debut “Gangsters," also for Media Asia, which Mak is producing. Mak intends the follow-up eavesdropping thriller to be ready for filming after each finishes his respective solo projects.
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