KUALA LUMPUR - Despite the hype surrounding Tanda Putera, there were few takers for the show at Pavilion Kuala Lumpur's Golden Screen Cinema (GSC) halls.
According to a cinema cashier, the movie has not been very popular, while an attendant said only 48 out of a total of 274 seats were occupied for the 2.15pm show yesterday.
"That's not even half the cinema, and it's been like this since it started showing," he said.
There were about 60 cinema goers for the 5.15pm showing, and only a few advance bookings were seen for the 7.45pm and 12.45am screenings, despite it being a Saturday as well as a public holiday.
The movie, directed by Datin Paduka Shuhaimi Baba, costs RM4.8mil (S$1.8 million) to produce, and was a joint effort by the National Film Development Corporation (Finas) and the Multimedia Development Corporation.
Tanda Putera is a story of Malaysia's second Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak Hussein and his good friend, the then Home Affairs Minister Tun Dr Ismail Abdul Rahman.
Several groups have complained that the movie had portrayed minorities in the bad light, with some alleging the film does nothing for national integration, but instead, stokes hatred.
A similarly cool response from cinema goers was also seen in Penang yesterday, with a check revealing that only 42 tickets were sold for a 305-seat hall at the 2.25pm screening at GSC Queensbay Mall.
However, it was a different scenario at the Mega Cineplex Megamall Pinang in Prai, where Permatang Pauh Umno Youth chief Mohd Zaidi Mohd Said booked the entire 160-seat cineplex for the 1.45pm screening for members of the division and his friends.
"I did not see any sensitive issues or elements in the movie which might incite racist sentiments.
"There is a scene which depicts a man peeing on the Malaysian flag, but people should be given the chance to judge for themselves whether it reflects the truth," he said.
Azlan Ali, 37, who works as a driver, said he would consider watching the movie to find out for himself if the movie reflected a true account of what happened.
"Considering that it is controversial, I am a little cautious about the contents, but I hope that there will be a message at the end that will contribute to the values of National Day," said Azlan at Queensbay Mall.
A 20-year-old student who wanted to be known as Hafiz Kulai said he preferred action-packed movies to those about history.
"Even if I decided to watch a local movie, I might not select Tanda Putera due to the reviews I received from my friends, who told me the story is less than balanced in several aspects."