Jan 08
FOREIGN FILM RELEASES IN 2009 by Jose N. Carreon  |  Posted in Articles  |  on Fri, Jan 8, 2010

Last of two parts

The number of foreign film releases in 2009 was the lowest in the last five years but the 153 total was still double that of the number of local films.

As written in the first part of this report, locally, digital films outstripped mainstream movies for the first time, 36 to 34.

The prognosis for film releases during the start of the decade of the 2010s remains the same according to the sentiments expressed by bookers. Foreign films will still lord it over even as the neck-to-neck fight between digital and mainstream local films becomes heated.

Five major distributors hogged the lion’s shares of the 2009 foreign film output. These were Cinestar, Viva Films, Columbia, Warner (sometimes Warner/Fox) and UIP.

Actually, the total number included 137 films in wide release and 16 AH (or art house) films which were exhibited in just one or very few cinemas.

Cinestar had 37 films released last year, including what may be the top-grossing foreign film last year, Twilight Saga: New Moon.

Cinestar also released Transporters 3, Ace Ventura, Fame and Astroboy. Other titles were not big productions compared with New Moon and Transporters 3.

Local film producer Viva Films was actually busy in the release and distribution of 35 foreign films, the most popular of which was 2009 Oscar best picture winner Slumdog Millionaire.

Viva Films’ releases also included Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Shaolin Girl, Major Movie Star, Drag Me to Hell, Ong Bak 2, District 9, Law Abiding Citizen, the sleeper Paranormal Activity and Bad Lieutenant.

But it was the majors—Columbia, Warner and UIP—which scheduled releases of top-heavy films in 2009.

Columbia, which released 27 films, came up with the animation film UP, Michael Jackson: This is It and 2012. It also released these worldwide film hits: Race to Witch Mountain, Angels & Demons (the sequel to the Da Vinci Code), Terminator: Salvation, the remake of Taking of Pelham 123, Hannah Montana, the Movie, The Proposal, G-Force and A Christmas Carol.

Warner released 27 films (five of which were in partnership with Fox) and most of these were really big productions which figured prominently in the box-office derby for 2009.

Warner released what may eventually turn out as the highest grossing film that opened worldwide in 2009. This is Avatar whose exhibition gave way temporarily to the Metro Manila Film Festival (except for two Imax SM theatres). Avatar is directed by James Cameroon, the director of Titanic which he made 12 years ago.

After its two-week run in the US, it has already grossed more than P300 million and is said to be on track to hit the P1.8 billion gross Titanic racked up.

Aside from Avatar, Warner also released Harry Potterand the Half-Blood Prince , Dragonball Evolution, X Men Origins: Wolverine, Benjamin Button, Gran Torino, Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs and Jennifer’s Body. With Fox, Warner released Marley and Me.

UIP released only nine films but most were big budget productions like Watchmen, Star Trek 11, Transformers 2 and GI Joe. It also released Monster vs. Aliens, Fast and Furious, Public Enemies and Inglorious Basterds.

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