Still Human, the buzzy film about the relationship between a middle-aged disabled man and a Filipino domestic worker, is basking in its post-awards season glow thanks to a major bump in Hong Kong box office takings.
The film was released in November with little fanfare, and had only a limited run in cinemas in order to meet the minimum requirements to be eligible for the 38th Hong Kong Film Awards, but since returning to theaters just days before taking home three statuettes on April 14, it has earned over HK$10 million (about US$1.27 million) in 11 days, HK01 reports.
As of yesterday, the film had been number one at the box office for seven days running.
The film only started to gain more widespread attention in the run-up to the ceremony, where it nabbed awards for Best New Director for Oliver Chan Siu-kuen, Best Actor for Anthony Wong Chau-sang, and Best New Performer for Crisel Consunji, the first Philippines-born actor to be honored by the awards association.
Still Human‘s recent hot streak is all the more impressive given its modest budget of about HK$3 million (US$382,000). By comparison, the counterfeiter caper Project Gutenberg, which nabbed seven awards including Best Film at the ceremony, was made with a budget of HK$300 million. (Gutenberg, meanwhile, has grossed about HK$34 million in Hong Kong, and more than HK$1.5 billion worldwide.)
In a video message posted on the film’s Facebook page, Consunji thanked people for continuing to support the film, and she and fellow actor Himmy Wong (who plays a supporting role in the film) even paid a visit to two theaters in Sha Tin and Tsim Sha Tsui to surprise movie-goers.
Still Human is not the only small budget film in recent years to benefit from a post-awards bump in the box office.
The 2016 drama Mad World premiered to rave reviews at the Toronto International Film Festival and won two awards at that year’s Golden Horse Awards (often dubbed the Chinese-language Oscars). The film, about a former financial analyst with bipolar disorder who is forced to move in with his truck driver father after being released from a psychiatric hospital, capitalized on that buzz to rake in just under HK$17 million (US$2.16 million) in the 10 days leading up to the 36th Hong Kong Film Awards in 2017.
It ultimately took home awards for Best New Director, Best Supporting Actress, and Best Supporting Actor.