ORGANIZERS of the Metro Manila Film Festival admitted on Saturday the present lineup of movie entries failed to hit or surpass the P1-billion total gross it earned in 2015.
The Metro Manila Development Authority, the overall event organizer and the supervising body of the MMFF, did not disclose the actual box-office figures but hoped that with the approval of theater owners and operators to give more days to exhibit the eight movies until Jan. 10, the MMFF earnings would reach more than half a billion mark.
“Previously, the MMFF earned about P1 billion and we’re expecting to get more than half of that earnings because of the extended screening period given by the theatre owners,” said MMDA acting chairman Thomas Orbos in a phone interview.
The eight movie entries will be shown until Tuesday in selected SM Cinemas, Robinsons Shopping Malls, Gateway Shopping Centers and Ayala Commercial and Shopping Malls, among others nationwide.
Orbos earlier said even if they failed to hit their targets, the current MMFF was considered successful in bringing such movies, which were mostly independent films.
“I think already we are successful in bringing out such movies. Change is not an easy task as we all see in our President and in what we are doing to [solve] traffic. It’s all about changing the norms, going against what we believe is normal. Anything that we need to do to develop to become better to change needs some adjustments. And I think we should give the new set of films a chance,” he said.
But Senator Vicente Sotto III, whose brother Vic Sotto’s film “Enteng Kabisote and the Abangers” failed to be included in the MMFF, expressed his disappointment and was not satisfied about the present status of the festival, particularly its earnings.
He earlier filed a Senate resolution to have a separate festival for independent films, citing the changes made to MMFF 2016 as one of the reasons behind the recommendation for a new film festival.
Among the changes, according to Sotto, was the removal of “50 percent commercial viability” from the criteria for selecting the eight films that would be featured in the festival.
As a result, mostly films produced by independent companies were chosen, instead of the usual big budget commercial films.
Sotto said in the resolution that while some enjoyed the new films in MMFF 2016, others were still looking for old festival favorites that “give them a good laugh.”
“Since Christmas season is for children, and it is likewise the time when MMFF movies are being shown in the cinemas, the absence of the mainstream films in the MMFF entries for 2016 was prejudicial to the regular MMFF moviegoers, particularly the children, who always look forward to these movies to bond, enjoy, be entertained and share a good laugh with their family and friends,” the former comedian-turned-politician said.
Film Development Council of the Philippines chairperson Liza Diño-Seguerra, also a member of the MMFF Executive Committee, agreed with Sotto that movies intended for children should not be set aside.
“We should not disregard that concern. It is a valid concern,” said Seguerra, adding she already read Sotto’s resolution.
“Under FDCP mandate the creation, empowering and strengthening of festivals (would cover) not just Manila but all over the Philippines. If that matter is going to be taken up, it has to be taken up with us and if you’re going to ask how FDCP is seeing this, right now our goal is to unite the industry,” she said.
Seguerra explained the reason why all the measures were being taken was because there was a big gap between the independent community and the commercial industry.
“But there’s always a way to bring both together and, right now, I had been in meetings with big networks and they’re very open, cooperative on how we can move forward and engage everyone to unite,” she said.
The MMFF Executive Committee earlier released the official rankings of the eight entries in terms of box-office gross.
It showed that “Vince & Kath & James” ruled the provincial side while “Die Beautiful” topped Metro Manila theaters.
Last year, The MMFF earned P1.020 billion total gross, which was more than P15 million the festival earned in 2014.
The movies included in the list of top earners in 2015: My Bebe Love #KiligPaMore starring Vic Sotto and the phenomenal Aldub love team Alden Richards and Maine Mendoza; Beauty and the Bestie which featured Vice Ganda and Coco Martin; Haunted Mansion starring Joem Basco, Alan Paule and Janelle Salvador; and Walang Forever starring Jennilyn Mercado.
The MMFF beneficiaries include the Movie Workers Welfare Foundation Inc., Motion Picture and Anti-Film Piracy Council, Film Development Council of the Philippines, and the Optical Media Board.