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Metro Manila film festival net 'significantly low'

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(Photo from the Official Facebook Page of Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) | @mmffofficial


Now, it can be told that despite alleged success in reorganizing the Metro Manila Film Festival with new rules and the entry of digital movies, its box office haul is low.

Producers themselves who joined the 2016 Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) reported that the revenues were "significantly lower" compared to previous years, citing latest figures.


Producer Star Cinema revealed last week that its entry in the MMFF 2016, “Vince & Kath & James” was the overall top grosser of the filmfest with earnings of P105 million.


“Die Beautiful” starring Paolo Ballesteros ranked second with P98 million, according to Star Cinema. 
This was followed by “Seklusyon” (P82 million), “Ang Babae sa Septic Tank 2” (P45 million), “Saving Sally” (P27 million), “Sunday Beauty Queen” (P7.8 million), “Kabisera” (P4.3 million) and “Oro” (P4.2 million).


All the cited revenues amounted to only P373.3 million, less than half of the earnings in MMFF 2015 of P1.020 billion from December 25 to January 7, 2016. 

It should be noted that the 2016 festival only ran from December 25 to January 3, 2017 -- or four days shorter than usual.


In 2014, the eight entries of MMFF raked in P1.014 billion.


MMFF Executive Committee member Boots Anson-Roa, in an ABS-CBN report, had admitted that the dip in the film fest earnings may have been due to the exclusion of tested box office draws such as Vice Ganda’s “Super Parental Guardians” and Vic Sotto’s “Enteng Kabisote 10 and the Abangers.”


MMFF 2016 spokesperson Noel Ferrer defended the reforms this year, saying they wanted to give opportunities to great independent films with small production budgets.


In another development, responding to the call of Senator Grace Poe to investigate the controversial dog slaughter scene in the Metro Manila Film Festival entry “Oro,” the MMFF Executive Committee decided to strip it of a special award named after Poe’s father, the King of Philippine Movies, Fernando Poe, Jr.


“Upon prior consultation with the family of the late Fernando Poe, Jr, the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) Executive Committee announces its decision to withdraw the Fernando Poe Jr. Memorial Award recently granted to the film ‘Oro.’ Without making any judgment on the artistic merit of the film or cinematic depiction, the MMFF finds the present controversy on the alleged killing of a dog in the course of the filming of the movie effectively casts a doubt on the movie’s ability to exemplify the human and cultural values espoused by the late Fernando Poe, Jr.,” went the MMFF statement.


In addition to the withdrawal of the award, the MMFF also stopped the showing of the film in its present version pending the submission of an edited version that does not include the questionable scene.


“Pursuant to the agreement reached by the lawyers present during the inquiry, a new DCP in keeping with animal welfare will be submitted for showing plus affidavit of support for human and animal rights and welfare alike…In the meantime, out of prudence, and without prejudice to the law taking its course on whether or not an animal was killed in the course, or in connection with the filming of ORO, no showing in theaters of the present version shall be allowed,” the MMFF Execom said in a separate statement.


Sen. Vicente Sotto, meanwhile, proposed thatthe Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA), the governing body behind the annual Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF), create a separate festival for independent films.


Sotto filed a Senate resolution last week “Recommending the MMDA to Establish a Film Festival Exclusively for the Independent Films During the Long Semestral Break.”


The resolution is seen as an offshoot of the just concluded 42nd MMFF, which introduced sweeping reforms that prized artistic merit over commercial viability and resulted in a line-up dominated by independent films.


“The dominance of independent films in the 42nd MMFF stirred discussions in social media and in the movie industry. While these independent films are considered by some as ‘a breath of fresh air from the usual funny, fantastical storylines,’ and ‘encourage people to think,’ most of the regular MMFF moviegoers are still looking for the kinds of films screened in the previous MMFFs – movies that give them a good laugh,” Sotto said.


Sotto questioned the quality of the eight official entries in the Yuletide festival but did not specify which films he was referring to, Edwin Sallan reported on


“Quality ba ‘yun? Hindi high-end equipment ang gamit. Hindi top quality ang video,” the veteran lawmaker remarked to Senate reporters.


He said that the recent festival did not cater to children and young audiences, which echoed the stance of Regal Films’ Mother Lily Monteverde that the MMFF was for children and the whole family.


However, film critic Philbert Dy was quick to question Sotto’s motives in a Twitter post:”Let’s call it what it is: a Senate resolution to bring back a shitty system that directly benefited his brother.”


Sotto, a former entertainer, is the elder brother of comedian Vic Sotto, the star of the “Enteng Kabisote” fantasy film franchise that was an MMFF staple for many years.


The latest installment of the “Enteng Kabisote” series failed to qualify in the recent festival and was screened in late November. It went head to head against another high-profile MMFF reject, the Vice Ganda-Coco Martin vehicle “Super Parental Guardians,” and was clobbered at the box office.


Actress and MMFF selection committee member Mae Paner called Sotto’s resolution a divisive move.


“Senator Sotto,” she appealed to him in a Facebook post, “di po biro ang effort ng buong MMFF team na alisin ang divide between indie and mainstream movies. In fact, sana po, National Film Festival na ang MMMF next year para di maiwan ang mga probinsya. Ang love po minumultiply, hindi dinidivide! Kindly rethink your move! Please! At salamat sa pakikinig!”


In early November, Sotto criticized the MMFF for bending its own rule of accepting only finished films when it accommodated “picture-locked” entries, meaning films that had not finished post-production.


He was reportedly pacified when it was explained to him that those submissions came with a huge disadvantage.


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