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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Dec 17, 2016

Which Metro Manila Film Festival Entries Have A Good Chance Of Hitting It Big At The Box Office, And Why?

WE ATTENDED the grand presscon hosted by the Metro Manila Filmfest at Quezon Memorial Circle and the directors and stars of the 8 film entries were also invited to personally plug their respective movies to the press people present. Talent manager and writer Noel Ferrer acted as the master of ceremonies presenting the omnibus trailers of the entries then presenting each movie.

The lead stars who were there to promote their films were Nora Aunor in “Kabisera”, Irma Adlawan in “Oro”, and Rhian Ramos in “Saving Sally”. Only JR Versales, Rhed Bustamante and Johnvic De Guzman came for “Seklusyon”. Paolo Ballesteros was not there for “Die Beautiful”, but Director Jun Lana and producer Perci Intalan came to personally plug their film, along with supporting stars Christian Bables and Cedric Juan. Director Marlon Rivera and Cai Cortez represented “Ang Babae sa Septic Tank 2”. The stars of “Vince, Kath & James” were not there. Julia Barretto and Ronny Alonte were at that time at ABS-CBN for the presscon of their new soap, “A Love to Last”. “Sunday Beauty Queen” was represented by its director Ruth Villarama and one of the Hong Kong OFW’s who’s in the movie.

Folks keep asking if the filmfest would be a commercial success and which movies do we think will hit it big at the box office. Judging from the track records of the “masa” moviegoers, we all know they go to the movies mainly for mindless escapist entertainment and not for serious film fare with lofty intentions of educating them and imparting good values to them. But still, we’re keeping our fingers that this particular filmfest will prove its detractors wrong. We hope there are enough sensible cineastes to support all the 8 well chosen entries at the box office.

We’re more afraid for the theater owners. If most of the entries would laid big fat eggs at the tills, then we’re sure the theater owners themselves will refuse to hold the same kind of star-less filmfest next year. We honestly think the decision to make all of the 8 entries all serious films is too sudden, too drastic. You cannot teach or force moviegoers to change their preferences in a jiffy.

As it is, the films that get a G rating (for all kinds of audiences) will automatically have the edge as kids can view them freely, along with their parents. The only film with G rating are “Vince & Kath & James” and “Sunday Beauty Queen”. “Vince” has a surefire advantage. It’s from ABS-CBN, which is now using all its marketing and promotions machinery in full force to promote their entry in all media, and knowing the past record of Star Cinema at the box office, this has all the makings of a blockbuster. As for “Sunday Beauty Queen”, it’s a documentary and we all know local viewers are not suckers for docus. Personally, it should not have competed in the filmfest where the seven entries are fictional narrative films, but it’s already there so let’s just support it.

Three films got PG (parental guidance) ratings, so kids can still watch them: “Ang Babae sa Septic Tank 2”, “Oro” and “Saving Sally”. “Babae sa Septic Tank 2” is a witty sequel to the original “Babae” movie in 2011. It’s the only entry we’ve seen so far and we can vouch for its being truly funny, with a truly rollicking performance from title-roler Eugene Domingo who should be a front runner in the best actress award. The laugh-out-loud ending, which is the funniest we’ve seen in the history of local films, is sure to be talked about.

“Oro” is a serious look at the local mining industry. It’s chief drawback is that it has no name stars, but we know Irma Adlawan, Joem Bascon and Mercedes Cabral are all very talented performers, so here’s wishing moviegoers will still support their socially relevant movie. “Saving Sally” is a romance fantasy that is a combination of live action and animation. Its title-roler, Rhian Ramos, is not really considered a box office star and her leading man, Enzo Marcos, is a total unknown, so let’s just wish them the best of luck.

The movies that got an R-13 rating (meaning, only 13 year old viewers and above can watch them) are “Die Beautiful”, “Kabisera” and “Seklusyon”. That automatically means that they will not get the kiddie crowd and this can limit their chances at the box office. “Die Beautiful” has advanced publicity after it won the Audience Award at the Tokyo International Filmfest while its lead star, Paolo Ballesteros, won the best actor award. We hope this will truly translate into positive box office returns.

“Kabisera” is a serious family drama led by Nora Aunor and supported by other award-winning actors like Ricky Davao, Jason Abalos and JC De vera. Admit it or not, Ate Guy has lost her clout at the tills (ex. “Thy Womb”, also a filmfest entry a few years ago) but we’re ardently praying that this movie will work wonders for her career and become a big hit.

“Seklusyon” is the only horror film entry and horror flicks usually hit it big during the Christmas season. It has a largely unknown cast but this doesn’t need to be a problem, like “Haunted Mansion” did last year which also has a cast of newcomers yet went on to be a topgrosser. Its main drawback is that tot viewers (who seem love to have a good scare during the holidays) are not allowed to watch it.
Summing it up, despite reservations about the box office possibilities of the 8 chosen entries, here’s hoping for the best, combined with a fervent prayer that the public will still support them.