It seems we have to wait another year to see local movies finally occupy the upswing scale. As things stand this year, we may not even hit the 50-film mark—which was the total of local films shown the entire 2007.
As of October 8, 2008, a total of 30 local films (including 11 digital films) had already been exhibited in commercial theaters. For 2007, the same period already chalked up 35 local film releases (including 9 digital films).
Eight films are scheduled for the 2008 Metropolitan Manila Film Festival (compared with 9 in the 2007 MMFF-P). Eleven other films are booked for the October to December playdates before the filmfest period. Assuming that all those booked will be released and exhibited, the total for 2008 will be a measly 49 or one film short of last year.
Things might look brighter next year when the 10 percent amusement tax law is implemented nationwide . The amusement tax was cut from 30 to 10 percent of the admission prices and this might encourage producers to start churning out film projects once more.
But for this year, the prognosis is this—we might not breach the 50-film mark when the year ends on December 31, 2008.
But let us look at the brighter angles of the situationer re our local film industry this year. Two of our leading local producers—Regal Entertainment Inc. and Star Cinema—have kept their production back-burners really burning.
Regal Entertainment Incorporated of Mother Lily showed eight films in 2007 and is at a clip this year to come up with ten films, including two MMFF-P entries. It had so far shown six films: My Bestfriend’s Wedding (with GMA Films), Manay Po 2 Overload, Monster Mom (with GMA Films), Double Trouble (with APT), Loving You and Kulam.
Regal has lined up four other before the year ends. Their releases include: One True Love (starring Marian Rivera, Dingdong Dantes and Iza Calzado), Scaregiver (a co-production with APT films starring Jose & Wally) and its two filmfest entries, Desperadas 2 (starring Ruffa Gutierrez, Rufa Mae Quinto, Marian Rivera & Iza Calzado) and Shake, Rattle & Roll 10.
Star Cinema or ABS-CBN Cinema is able to keep its eight or nine film output for another year.
For 2008, it had already released My Big Love, Supapapalicious, When Love Begins (with Viva Films), Caregiver, A Very Special Love and For the First Time. But it has booked for showing My Only U (a Vhong Navarro and Toni Gonzales starrer), Land Down Under (a Piolo Pascual-Angel Locsin starrer) and its filmfest entry Ang Tanging Ina Niyong Lahat (starring Ai-Ai de las Alas).
Let us visit the booking ledger month by month. There was no local film release for January inasmuch as the nine 2007 Filmfest entries were still extended for showing and the backlog of foreign films inundated the cinemahouses.
Three local films were shown in February, two in March, three in April (including Ploning which was the country’s official entry to the Oscar’s best foreign language film category), three in May, three in June (including Urduja, the animated film project of APT Films), five in July (including the surprise hit of the year, A Very Special Love starring Sarah Geronimo and John Lloyd Cruz), six in August (including For the First Time starring Kaycee Concepcion and Richard Gutierrez), three in September (including I.T.A.L.Y.) and so far two in October (including Kulam of Judy Ann Santos and Dennis Trillo).
The production of digital films and their exhibition in digital format proves to be a big boost to push up the quota of films produced to the 50-barrier mark. This happened in 2007 and again this year.
Up to October 10 this year, 11 of the 30 films shown were digital films. These included Pisay, Iskandalo, Tiltil, Service (the Cannes Filmfest RP entry), Paupahan, Kambyo, Kalakal, Project X, Eskandalo, Room 213 and Binyag.
Digital films already booked for the last quarter of the year are Seb (starring Julia Clarete and TJ Trinidad), Dalaw, Walang Kawala, X-Deal and Love Birds.
We have enumerated the data that are really a little comforting.
But when we go to the other half of the ledger, the statistics that show the foreign films that had been exhibited this year, facts and figures become causes for discomfort.
Up to October 10 this year, a total of 133 foreign films had already been shown in the Philippines. And another 37 foreign films have been booked up to December 17—the last playdate before the filmfest.
Sifting through the list of booked foreign films reveals slew of big films that are really big as they can get. These include Pineapple Express, High School Musical 3, Nights in Rodanthe, Pride & Glory, Vicky Kristina Barcelona, Quantum Solcae (the 22nd james Bond film), Mnongol: The Untold Story of Genghis Khan, Rocknrolla, The Day the Earth Stood Still and Arthur and the Revenge of Maltazard.
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