There's no business like show business
If you've ever wondered about the benefits of the movie business, try sitting through the rolling credits at the end of a film.
Not many people would have the patience to sit for a few more minutes and read the names of those involved in making the movie. There are so many more than just the actors.
From consultants to storyboard artists, script supervisors, film editors, publicists and even carpenters. The list just goes on and on.
Those not directly involved in the industry will also benefit. There will be a need for caterers, car rentals, hotels, hardware stores and even the laundry shop.
This is why Khazanah Nasional Bhd's latest project for Iskandar Malaysia is exciting. It's teaming up with the UK's Pinewood Studios to develop a production facility in Johor.
The studio may become the set of a major Hollywood movie one day but let's not forget the potential of Asia. In fact, Asians have made such good movies that they have been copied by Hollywood. One movie, a remake of a Hong Kong movie, even won an Oscar for best picture a few years ago.
Khazanah has estimated that the economic impact of the studios would be about RM1 billion over the next eight years, which is a conservative number.
Maybe a look at the most successful movie industry in the world could shed some light on the industry's potential.
The US film and television industry contributes almost US$80 billion (RM275 billion) a year to the US economy, according to the Motion Picture Association of America. It employs some 2.5 million people, mainly comprised of middle class workers.
The industry pays about US$13 billion (RM44.72 billion) in taxes a year. Probably the best data for me was the fact that the average salary for a core-production worker was about US$75,000 (RM258,000) in 2007, 76 per cent higher than the average pay in the US.
Even if you include everyone in the industry, the average pay is still a solid 26 per cent more than the national average.
But the world economy is not in great shape you say. Nobody's certain if it will continue to grow. Yes, I heard you. So take a look at these numbers.
Despite a recession, the US box office grew about 2 per cent to US$9.79 billion (RM33.67 billion) in 2008. As for the global box office, it grew 5.2 per cent to hit an all-time high of US$28.1 billion (RM96.66 billion).
That means more people worldwide went to watch a movie last year.
But let's not get carried away. There is still a long way to go as the first phase of the studios would only be completed in 2013.
Maybe what we should focus on in the meantime is to produce a movie that Malaysians can be proud of. Let's find our own Martin Scorcese or James Cameron and help them make a movie that will put Malaysia on the global silver screen map.