Now that the 2016 Metro Manila Film Festival has started, moviegoers have been curious about the performance of the Magic 8 in the box office.
The entries of the 42nd edition of MMFF are (in alphabetical order): Ang Babae Sa Septic Tank 2, Die Beautiful, Kabisera, Oro, Saving Sally, Seklusyon, Sunday Beauty Queen, and Vince and Kath and James.
PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal) reported via PEP Alerts that it has been a tight battle between Die Beautiful and Vince & Kath & James for the first place, according to different sources. These two contenders are believed to be the frontrunners on December 25, the first day of MMFF 2016.
The dramedy Die Beautiful is topbilled by Paolo Ballesteros while the teen rom-com Vince & Kath & James stars Julia Barretto, Ronnie Alonte, and Joshua Garcia.
PEP sources have also disclosed that the first-day gross of all competing films are way below than previous years.
It will be recalled that when the 8 official entries were revealed, the members of the MMFF 2016 selection committee stressed that in choosing the movies: "Commercial viability not a concern at all."
Led by University of the Philippines professor emeritus Nicanor Tiongson and Vice-Chair Joy Belmonte, the selection committee was composed of veteran actor Ping Medina, internationally recognized writer/director Lawrence Fajardo, actor/film director/political activist Mae Paner, legal counsel for the National Commission on Culture and the Arts Atty. Trixie Angeles, station manager of DZRB Radyo ng Bayan Alan Allanigue, veteran journalist Ma. Crispina Belen, and Palanca Hall of Famer Krip Yuson.
Here were the thoughts of the selection committee members when they chose the Magic 8 for MMFF 2016:
Was commercial value a factor in the choice of entries this year?
Nick Tiongson (chairman): Yung factor na commercial ba yung pelikula, hindi yun ang unang concern. Ang first concern was quality. Kahit sabihin na baka other films might have made more money, that was not a concern at all. In other words, even the genre was second consideration; una ang quality. Dun sa evaluation, pumasa ka ba? Kung hindi ka pumasa doon, kahit ano ang genre mo, di na namin kinonsider.
Importante yung quality, secondarily yung representation of different genres. As to the commercial viability of the choices, we firmly believe that with proper marketing, these choices will be commercial successes. Kasi may laman sila. In other words, nagsisimula ka with a good product.
Are you aware that you’re taking a risk, choosing commercial viability over technical excellence and viewing habits? Are you prepared for the consequences [in terms of box office returns]?
Nick Tiongson (chairman): Sa risk, we are fully aware of it. If the Executive Committee wanted to follow the safe and tried and tested [method], ‘di sana wag na sabihin ang change. Pero alam na natin na ang naging tunguhin ay parang lumala nang lumala over the years, binabatikos na talaga, na parang hindi na siya in keeping with the original intention of the festival.
It’s to their credit that they made that decision na baguhin natin. It takes courage to do that. Of course, may risk, but then you know the turtle does not make progress until its head is out.
Krip Yuson (member): At first, one can also look at it as possibly a one step backward, two steps forward kind of cycle. If the same criteria are still applied next year I’m sure the experience of some producers this year whether they won or not will give them an indication of what to do next year.
There’s really no bias of any sort, individually or collectively, against any particular genre – blockbuster type or commercial. Commercial films can also be done with excellent quality – creatively and technically. Puwede sigurong ganun. Makikita ng mga hindi nakasali dito sa walong ito next year; mapag-iigihan [dahil] makikita nila ang quality ng mga nataasan namin ngayon [ng rating]. Of course, mag-iiba ang committee next year.
In 2015, the MMFF grossed P1.2 billion. This year, are you setting a target, since you said earlier that you are not very concerned about commercial value?
Mae Paner (member): Hindi lang naming kasi trabaho yun. Ang saklaw lang ng trabaho namin ay pumili ng walong pelikula ayon sa pamantayan na binigay sa amin ng Executive Commitee. Ngayon, doon naman sa commercial value, I think mahirap din naman nating i-second guess ang ating audience – na itong pelikulang napili ay hindi nila magugustuhan, kasi ang gusto nila yung ganito.
I think the beauty of the choices for this year is that, in fact, we will develop our audience. Because I believe that the quality of the films this year is far better than the ones of the previous years.
Nick Tiongson (chairman): You never can tell. Halimbawa, ang Heneral Luna, di mo akalaing magiging ganun yun. Kasi nung first week of screening niya, it was a sleeper. And then by word of mouth, kasi maganda siya, lumaki nang lumaki over the weeks and the months, so that it raised P260 million. We should not [automatically relate commercial success] to certain forms. Kailangan mag-discover tayo ng ibang klase ng pelikula, kasi nagbubukas yun ng pananaw natin sa maraming bagay.
Ang faith ko, audiences now are no longer bakya. Wala na yun. We already have an audience that is media-savvy. They are exposed to excellent media films already. It is wrong to dumb them down, kasi condescending yun. Dapat, if we know what quality is, then let’s try and give them quality. So yung options and choices nila ay mas mataas naman.
Krip Yuson (member): Yung last year’s figures nga daw, P1.2 billion yung na-make, and the Metro Manila Development Authority is hoping for P1.5 billion this year. Normal [target] ‘yan. We just hope for the best.