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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.

Feb 10, 2019

Movies Used To Be The Cheapest Form Of Entertainment, But Now, Moviegoing Has Become A Luxury!

empty movie theaters. where the viewers gone?
THE TWO local films that opened last week both didn’t do well at the box office, just like all the other homegrown movies shown since the year started. These are “Elise” and “Hanggang Kailan”, that come from two of the biggest companies in the industry, Regal and Viva.  In any showbiz function we go to these day, we always hear of movie folks deploring the sad state of the local box office. They hark back to the past, especially in the 70s and 80s, when local movies were ruling it at the tills and even trouncing foreign releases shown simultaneously with them.

But those were different times. Movies were the cheapest form of entertainment then. When we started watching movies in the 60s, the ticket price was only P1.20. Then it went up through the years. Now, the price of tickets at P250 and above (P300 during the past filmfest) has become quite prohibitive. The local wage earner would rather use that kind of money for buying several kilos of rice to put food on their family’s table. Moviegoing has now become a luxury!

And there was no competition then, not even from television. But now, movie theaters have a lot of rivals. First and foremost is television which now comes in several platforms: free TV, cable TV, live streaming. And you also have pirated DVDs.

Then there’s the cellphone. Some folks would rather spend their money buying cellphone load than getting a movie ticket. On a cellphone, you can have access to social media. You can do Facebook, twitter, instagram and watch youtube unlimited, all right inside the comfort of your own homes without dressing up and braving traffic. You can even watch movies right on your cellphone.

Some of the biggest hits then were the so-called bomba or bold movies. Launching a new nymphet who’s ready to disrobe for the camera is a surefire way of attracting crowds in movie theaters. But that is no longer the case. Sex was then limited to the movies and some risque magazines.

But now, pornogoraphy is so easy to access on the internet, all shown uncut. There are many shameless sites you can visit for free and they offer whatever you want, each to his own perversion. And no one can control it as you can do it right inside the privacy of your own room.

And let’s face it, movies now, both foreign and local, are no longer promoted the way they were promoted before. In the 70s and 80s, they would post huge billboards on main thoroughfares to announce the latest movies. Since there were no printed tarpaulins then yet, the billboards are handpainted by painters who can copy the face of movie stars on canvas.

Also, movie companies then regularly put out movie ads on the entertainment pages of newspapers in movie directories which moviegoers then use as their guide in watching films. And there were so many movie magazines then where stars of upcoming movies are interviewed to publicize their latest works.

Now, all that has been superceded by the internet, but not everyone has access to that, especially in the provinces. And since the internet has become another cheap form of entertainment, people would just rather watch the stars in their vlogs or social media accounts than watch their new movies inside a moviehouse.

Bong Revilla says he really wants to revive the local film industry by asking movie theaters to lower their ticket prices for local films. “Masyado nang mahal ang tickets sa mga sinehan ngayon,” he says. “We have to talk to the producers and the theatre owners. We have to make moves to attract the viewers to come back to the theaters. Sa mahal ng tickets ngayon, kung isang family kayong manonood, libu-libo na agad ang gagastusin nyo, e plus food and transportation pa. Hindi na talaga maa-afford ng masa ang manood ng sine. Ang makaka-afford lang, yung mga talagang may kaya. Siempre, hindi basta papayag ang theatre owners na ibaba ang bayad sa sinehan. Pero mas gusto ba nila yung nangyayari ngayon na sa bawat screening nila, kakaunti lang ang nanonood at puro bakante na ang mga upuan? So they should reconsider, pati mga producer. It really has to be a concerted effort para mabuhay uli ang local film industry.”

He does have a point and we hope the concerned parties in the movie industry would give a listen.