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Piolo Pascual’s ‘Mallari’ marks Warner Bros. first foray into mainstream local film distribution

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Hollywood giant Warner Bros. lends its seal of approval to Filipino horror flick  Mallari, marking a “watershed moment” for Philippine cinema.

The Hollywood studio has joined forces with up-and-coming Filipino production company Mentorque Productions to distribute the highly anticipated horror film. 

The partnership was officially sealed during a contract signing ceremony held at the Chairman’s Lounge in Okada Manila on November 25. The event was attended by  Rico Gonzales, Distribution Director of Warner Bros. Philippines, and  John Bryan Diamante, President of Mentorque Productions.

Veteran actress and beauty queen Gloria Diaz

Under this new agreement, Warner Bros. will assume theatrical distribution of  Mallari  across the Philippines, marking a significant departure from their previous limited involvement in local film distribution, which dates back to the 2003 release of an indie film.

The path to Warner Bros.’s first major local venture began when Gonzales, with the green light from their regional and head offices in Burbank, embarked on a mission to explore strategic partnerships within the Philippine film industry. It was during this quest that Mentorque’s production of  Mallari  captured Gonzales’s attention, sparking discussions for a potential collaboration.

Versatile actress Janella Salvador

Diamante, echoing Gonzales’s belief in the power of collaboration, expressed his admiration for Warner Bros.’s commitment to supporting high-quality local films. 

“It’s like the stars aligned,” Diamante remarked, alluding to Warner Bros.’s newfound interest in local films and Mentorque’s strategic decision to elevate their production portfolio to include major film productions with “mainstream and international appeal.”

Elisse Joson joins the stellar cast of ‘Mallari’

According to its lead star,  Piolo Pascual, the landmark collaboration, which marks Warner Bros.’s first foray into mainstream Filipino film distribution, cements  Mallari’s position as a film of exceptional quality and underscores the global appeal of Philippine storytelling.

In the film  Pascual plays the titular character  Fr.  Severino Mallari, known as the Philippines’ first and only documented serial killer. 

“It’s a privilege to be a part of something this significant and to be recognized by Warner Bros., an international brand,” Pascual stated.

Rising actor Ron Angeles

The actor further emphasized the potential impact of this collaboration on the Philippine film industry, noting that Warner Bros.’s involvement will undoubtedly open doors for Filipino filmmakers and elevate the global recognition of Philippine cinema. 

“It’s not just a welcome change; it’s something we should celebrate as Filipinos,” Pascual added.

Directed by  Derick Cabrido  and written by  Enrico Santos, Mallari boasts a stellar cast that includes  Janella Salvador, JC Santos, Gloria Diaz,  and  Tommy Alejandrino. 

Initial buzz highlights several factors that make  Mallari  an attractive prospect for Warner Bros. The film boasts epic horror elements, spanning three distinct time periods, incorporating extensive special effects, and seamlessly blending popcorn horror thrills with mind-bending mystery.

Reputed as the most expensive film in MMFF 2023,  Mallari  required filming in two distant provinces to ensure authenticity, alongside extensive soundstage work for special effects. 

A complete 19th-century Pampanga plaza was constructed in a remote Batangas location, including a fully functional church. Notably, most of the cast members have never ventured into roles as intense and demanding as the ones they portray in this film.

Warner Bros. has made a bold and strategic move by entering the resurgent Philippine cinema market. Beyond local film distribution, Warner Bros. and Mentorque are exploring avenues for Warner Bros. to distribute Filipino films across the Asian region, collaborate on streaming platforms, and even consider co-productions in the future. 

As Gonzales aptly quoted Warner Bros.’s classic  Casablanca, “I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

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