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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 14, 2021



MOVIE THEATERS are supposed to have opened last weekend but the mayors of Metro Manila objected to the decision of the pandemic task force to allow cinemas in GCQ (general community quarantine) to resume their operations.

“Cinemas are enclosed spaces and gatherings there last for more than an hour,” says Paranaque City Mayor Edwin Olivarez.

Also allowed to operate again are museums, gaming arcades, theme parks, historical landmarks, libraries, archives and natural sites accredited by the Dept. of Tourism, also churches which are now allowed up to 50 percent capacity. We don’t know if the mayors also objected to this.

Someone connected with the film industry tells us: ‘Bakit ayaw nilang pabuksan ang mga sinehan, pero ang mga sabungan in full operation na?”

And someone quipped: “Di bale na raw ma-covid ang mga sabungero kasi nagsusugal lang sila, wag ang mga nanonood ng sine.”

Honestly, even if the theaters would open again, we seriously doubt if people would flock to it. Even in the malls, there are so many open restaurants that have very few customers in them. People are still afraid to go out of their homes, what with new covid variant as a new deterrent for venturing out of your house.

What we’re even more afraid of is that the taste of viewers have really changed. For one thing, their attention span has become so short, specially among young people. They’re now used to shorter materials to watch since they’ve been accustomed to watching content on youtube and tiktok. 

Even our own grandchildren, they would watch something on their laptops, phones or tablets for a while and once it didn’t catch their interest, they quickly swipe and change what they are watching. When their parents ask them to watch movies with them, they beg off. “It’s too long,” they say. 

They prefer to watch shorter viewing materials and that is really scary for those working in the full length film industry. 

And also, they don’t have to pay at all because much of the materials they get from youtube and tiktok are for free. We’re really apprehensive about how this would affect the moviemaking industry.

And this is what Writer-Director Joey Reyes says about this: "Accept. Adapt. Advance. One reality we MUST all face: we can never go back to the way we were.

"It will take time for the vaccine to have a collective effect and make life safe without face masks, face shields and other forms of respiratory protection. 70% of the world need to be immunized before we can attempt at normal. Or maybe this IS already the normal.

"While fighting the virus, we have to live with it. And, yes. Even if cinemahouses are opened, will anybody watch? After a year of being confined in our homes FOR OUR OWN SAFETY, will we still go back to the way things were before OR find ways to make do, improvise, innovate and move on?

"Yes, filmmaking ... and distribution have been affected. Painful as it is to admit, we need to accept, adapt and advance with the givens life has provided for all of us. The filmmakers are struggling to go BEYOND survival."

And this is the opinion of reader Ernie Carpio: "If things would go back to what it used to be, I'm one of those who will go back to the theater as there's still nothing like watching a movie on the big screen. 

"But there is still no herd immunity from the virus, so I don't think it's totally safe to go at this time. 

"Meanwhile, among the younger generation, their emerging viewing habits may eventually change the entertainment landscape and to think that they will comprise the bulk of viewership in the not too distant future."

We hope we are wrong but the future of movies indeed looks bleak.