MMFF 2021 shouldn’t be compared to pre-pandemic box-office returns

!hola - MJ Marfori - The Philippine Star
MMFF 2021 shouldnât be compared to pre-pandemic box-office returns

“Twenty twenty two” is looking like “twenty twenty too” when it comes to the local film industry: Extremely challenging. With a looming COVID-19 surge in tow, the audience will surely have hesitations on entering the cinema.

The most successful local opening to date was Christmas Day where we welcomed the entries for the yearly Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) back and exclusively in the theaters. But with all the Internet negatrons pointing fingers on who to blame for the low turnout of moviegoers, MMFF spokesperson Noel Ferrer gave the harsh reality of the math of it all, “Out of the 900 cinemas which usually ran pre-pandemic, now it is only 300 cinemas operating with 50 percent capacity.”

Well, we may not be Einstein but his statement doesn’t need a math whiz to understand how much is the capacity to accept an audience. Many cinemas in the country were not able to make ends meet to maintain their cinemas. Noel did not want to give out figures but he said that MMFF earned double digits in millions during the first day, but of course, there’s a silver lining. “Natalo naman natin ang Eternals and No Time To Die dito sa Pilipinas and those are very big films.”

On the issue of hybrid showing as suggested by some netizens, Noel made a point by explaining the difficulties, “Naaalala naman natin last year we were purely streaming. Napag-usapan naman iyon pero ang lumalabas ayon sa aming dialogue is that naging talamak ang piracy last year, hindi na talaga napigilan.”

The MMFF strived and tried their best to have a diverse list of entries for the public to choose from starting with A Hard Day (Viva Communications, Inc.), Big Night (Cignal Entertainment, Ideafirst Company, Octobertrain Films and Quantum Films), Love At First Stream (ABS-CBN Films Productions, Kwentolabs, Inc.), Kun Maupay Man It Panahon/Whether The Weather Is Fine (Cinematografica, Plan C, House on Fire, etc. ), Nelia (A and Q Production Films), Huwag Kang Lalabas, starring Kim Chiu, The Exorsis (TinCan) and Huling Ulan sa Tag-Araw (Heaven’s Best Entertainment).

Just a few years back, the entity had an issue that they became a high-brow selection committee in terms of choosing the entries, but this year, they even said that they were very hopeful of a Vice Ganda or a Vic Sotto entry, which are the top hits for children supposedly. But because of the situation we are in, the big stars did not get to film movie projects during the pandemic.

This is the reality of the local film scene but with the start of the New Year and with just one week to go for the MMFF festival to run, it would be awesome to reflect on the state of Philippine cinema and instead of bashing the situation, it would be best to offer support and more solutions.


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