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Singaporean filmmaker Jack Neo is set to direct a female-driven spinoff of his blockbuster comedy film series Ah Boys to Men.
The first Ah Boys to Men film was released in 2012, followed by three sequels. All of the films follow a group of privileged young men who are conscripted into Singapore’s National Defense service and forced to grow up fast to fulfill their duties.
The four films have collectively grossed over $20 million in Singaporean cinemas, the most of any locally made franchise ever. Several of the titles also have been licensed by Netflix as key local titles for the streamer’s Southeast Asian content offerings.
The new spinoff, titled Ah Girls Go Army, is set in a fictional future, where women are drafted into the city-state’s National Service because there are not enough young men for the force due to the territory’s low birth rates.
Ah Girls Go Army is slated for release on Feb. 1, 2022 at the start of Chinese New Year. Like the previous films in the series, the spinoff will be co-produced by mm2 Entertainment and Neo’s J Team Productions. The project was unveiled Wednesday at a press conference in Singapore.
“The story will focus on Singapore’s first batch of female recruits, a bunch of Gen Z teens with different backgrounds and education,” the co-producers said in a statement. “As they undergo the demanding Basic Military Training under the fierce leadership of Sergeant Lim and Lieutenant Zhang, the girls find themselves being pushed to their physical and emotional limits.”
Actress Apple Chan will return to the franchise as Lieutenant Zhang, while the original cast of Ah Boys to Men will make cameos in the new installment.
Said Neo: “Singaporeans are very fortunate; we live in a relatively safe and stable world. But what if the population of young people drop below the level that we need to sustain our defense? We know that the birth rate of our society is dropping each year. Can our Singaporean women step up to the challenge of defending our nation? This is what I want to explore in our new movie.”
“This is a challenging time for the media industry but we’re determined to overcome it by doing what we do best — produce compelling and entertaining content to meet an audience long deprived of a good local movie,” added Ng Say Yong, chief content officer of mm2 Asia. “And what better way to do it than taking a leaf off Singapore’s most iconic franchise and injecting it with the subject matter of diversity and gender equality? Jack Neo’s familiar brand of humor will lift spirits as we continue to navigate with cautious optimism the choppy waters ahead of us.”
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