For the first time since digital films were exhibited in commercial cinema-houses five years ago, these indie films have finally outstripped main-stream films in the sheer number of releases in 2009.
Statistics show that 36 digital films had been exhibited as of December 16 while mainstream films will only come up to a total of 34, including the yet to be shown seven entries to the 2009 Metropolitan Manila Film Festival. This will be the first time that digital films outnumbered mainstream movies.
But the local film sector’s combined output of 70 films still pales in comparison with the number of foreign films shown in local cinema houses in 2009. It is projected that a total of 153 foreign films (including the so-called art house films which have limited runs) would have been shown locally even before the start of the MMFF.
Turning back the pages of statistics on film releases to the year 2005, we will discover that only a single digital film was shown that year while 52 local mainstream films and 167 foreign releases were exhibited.
We will better appreciate the changing trends vis-à-vis local digital films through the chart about film exhibitions on a yearly basis reprinted below:
The chart merely shows the constant rise in local digital films’ theatrical run and the obvious downturn in the case of mainstream films with the years 2008 and 2009 almost in a dead heat.
Foreign films, meanwhile, constantly stayed with an annual total release in the range of 150 to 190 films.
It seems more appalling when we compare the statistics of local film production of the last decade (2000-2009) with the 1960s up to the 90s.
Let us look at the figures:
1960 to 1969 1,490 films produced and shown
1970 to 1979 1,657 films produced and shown
1980 to 1989 1,427 films produced and shown
1990 to 1999 1,366 films produced and shown
2000 to 2009 732 films produced and shown
Just like in the past two or three years, the year 2009 would have seen a total breakdown but for the persistence of several film companies to churn out films, though apparently much fewer compared with their output during the heydays of film production.
In 2009, the Big 4—Star Cinema, Regal Entertainment Inc., GMA and Viva Films—came up with a respectable number of films. APT Films collaborated with the Directors’ Guild of the Philippines for the Sine Direk project which produced P3 million budgeted films.
Star Cinema has nine films exhibited in 2009. These films include Love Me Again…Love Down Under; You Change My Life; Best Friends Forever; Villa Estrella; And I Love You So; In My Life; Ang Tanging Pamilya and its MMFF entry, I Love You…Goodbye. It co-produced Manila with Spring Films.
Regal Films has 7 films—Oh My Girl; Tarot; Nandito Ako; and its two MMFF entries, Mano Po 6 and Shake, Rattle & Roll 12. It co-produced Yaya & Angelina with GMA and APT Films and When I Met You with GMA Films.
The APT Film and DGPI project resulted in the following films: Fuschia; Ded Na si Lolo (RP’s entry to the foreign language film category of the next Oscar Awards); Litsonero; Agaton & Mindy; Kamoteng Kahoy and Bente.
GMA films has five films made in co-production. Aside from the three mentioned earlier, it also produced Sundo and Patient X with Viva Films. Viva Films has two other films, Spirit and Status: Single.
OctoArts Films has two—LOL (Love on Line) and its MMFF entry, Ang Darling Kong Aswang. Aside from Manila, Spring Film also produced the year’s sleeper, Kimmy Dora.
Three companies will field their only production of the year in the MMFF—Imus Films with Ang Panday (a co-production with GMA Films); Solar Films with Wapak Man; and RVQ Films with Nobody, Nobody But Juan.
Two other film companies round up the year’s producers—Sunflower Films with Dalaw and Megavision Films with Sumpa.
The surge in digital film production may be attributed to three companies which have a combined production of 19 films. These are Leo Films, with 8; Sunflower Films with 6 and Sinehan Digitales with 5.
Seventeen other film companies released a digital film each. These films included three noteworthy projects which had already won awards in local and international film festivals.
The films are Cinemalaya’s Engkwentro and Jay (released by Star Cinema) and Centerstage’s Lola.
(next week: Foreign Film Releases in 2009)
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