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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 27, 2022



WE’VE SEEN some Hollywood releases in mall theaters and they’re all playing to nearly empty moviehouses. 

Only “Spider-Man: No Way Home” has a rosy record, but all the rest suffered from poor viewer attendance. 

All the more so in the case of local movies, as evidenced by the dismal box office showing of all the entries in the recent Metro-Manila Filmfest. 

Before the filmfest started, another local film was shown, “Caught in the Act”, with Joaquin Domagoso and some new teen stars. It played to nearly empty theaters and was quickly pulled out.

The movie theatre business is really facing very tough times. This is not surprising. 

It is clear that the virus has prevented people from watching films in the cinemas and the survival of cinemas depend on these ticket buyers. Even abroad, we heard moviegoing is not the same as it used to be and theaters are fighting to stay afloat. 

Well, there are other reasons why this is so, specially in our case. To begin with, the price of movie tickets has become truly prohibitive. It’s anywhere from P350 to P450 and that’s no doubt beyond the reach of the ordinary wage earner for whom the minimum wage is P550 a day. 

If you’re a poor hand-to-mouth employee, you’d naturally rather spend that kind of money in buying food for your family. Or other essential items needed in your home. 

Also, there are now so many alternatives and you can watch a lot of shows for free on the internet, in youtube, in social media. 

You don’t even have to go to a movie house or watch TV to see your favorite stars as all of them now have their own personal vlogs where you can even get in touch with them personally. 

Because of all these online shows, specially Tiktok which offers mostly very short viewing fare of only about 20 to 30 seconds, the attention span of viewers has also gotten shorter and shorter, us included. as we admit we now easily get bored when we’re watching a movie. 

We have lost interest in watching even foreign TV series as most of them are just padded to stretch the material.  

A story that can be told in a two-hour movie gets so bloated as it is stretched to 8 to 10 hour-long episodes that test our patience.

We only watch movies and thank goodness we now have the flash forward button. Each time our interest in what we’re watching wanes, it’s so easy to press the skip button and avoid the boring parts. 

And Vivamax streaming has really offered one great alternative. For only P129, you can watch all the movies they offer and you can watch it with your whole family!!!! What a bargain. 

No wonder they have quickly built their own market and their regular subscribers has swiftly increased to 2.5 million worldwide. 

Even abroad, this is the future of film watching, which is why Hollywood films are shown only for a while in theaters then quickly go to Netflix or Amazon or HBO Max. 

Streaming has becoming very popular and we now have other outlets locally, like Upstream, KTX, iWant, Gagaoolala, etc.

What’s nice about watching films on streaming channels is that you don’t even have to dress up. It’s watch as you are: in your pajamas, in your shorts, sandos, undies etc. And you don’t have to brave the traffic and expose yourself to other people and the virus. 

Moviegoing will now have to be truly something of a very special event, like hugely budgeted franchise films such as “Spider-Man”, with its built in audiences, to make you want to get out of your cave and travel to a theater to watch it. 

And that, we’re afraid, is the future of films, whether we admit it, or like it, or not. Movie theaters would have to learn how to co-exist with streaming channels. 

Now that we're on Alert Level 1 with less restrictions, do you think theaters will be filled up by warm bodies soon? Well, hope springs eternal.