Is movie watching ever going to be the same again?

Published January 3, 2022, 3:50 AM

by Rica Arevalo

Reassessing the 2021 Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF)

There is a film industry and entries from the ongoing Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) like Big Night!, Kun Maupay Man It Panahon, and A Hard Day must be supported by the local moviegoers.

With the dismal MMFF box office results, we have to be aware that things are going to get worse before everything gets better.

The local film industry has to reassess, realign, and revive the “longing” for moviegoers to enter the cinemas again after a two-year hiatus.

Among the eight MMFF entries, it looks like The ExorSIS starring Toni and Alex Gonzaga is this year’s top grosser. The horror-comedy film is a caricature of The Exorcist. Is this a good sign? Yes, for the producers of Viva Films and TinCan film production because they know their audience.

We cannot condemn the quality of the film because one cannot argue with the choice of the audience. It is the moviegoing public’s prerogative and their right to choose what they want to spend their money on.

 That is why film education plays an important role. We need to keep on supporting the MMFF movies so that good local films, as well as profitable movies, can be produced.

There are several factors why there was a low turnout of moviegoers this Christmas season. One, there is the threat of the new Omicron virus. People are still afraid to be confined in a closed space. On Broadway in New York City, shows have been cancelled due to the rise of COVID cases and the productions find it necessary to end popular performances this holiday season even if it “hurts” for the cast and production.

If before, the once successful MMFF’s target audience was the family, now the elderly and the children are at risk entering the movie houses. Also, ticket prices have skyrocketed that the masa would rather go out to eat together than watch a movie.

We heard some complaints that the cinema projection was dark in some theaters. Technically, digital projectors need to be maintained at a certain temperature level. Since movie houses were shut down close to two years, and the projectors were not maintained in their normal set up, such as all-day air conditioning, this might have caused damage to the projectors. More headache for the owners of cinemas and cineplexes.

People have been introduced to streaming services. Filipino films can be seen on Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, iFlix, etc. For close to two years, the viewing habits of the Filipinos have changed.

At the height of the lockdowns, local movies were made available on YouTube for free courtesy of Regal Entertainment Inc, TBA Studios, Cinema One, among others. People have been introduced to streaming services. Filipino films can be seen on Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, iFlix, etc. For close to two years, the viewing habits of the Filipinos have drastically changed and chances are we can’t change them back.

There is an evolution right before our eyes because streaming has become a cheaper alternative for entertainment for most Filipinos affected by the pandemic.

Come Jan. 8, virus or no virus, a lot of Pinoy Marvel fans are catching Spider-Man: No Way Home in our cinemas. The film has earned more than $1 billion globally, a historical feat in this period of coronavirus pandemic. What is its effect on the moviegoing public?

The sad truth is cinema will just be for “big event” movies. We will flock to the theaters to watch films that we cannot enjoy on the small screens of our laptops or television sets.

And the micro cinema set up? It has a potential and would flourish. When you rent a film for 20 people costing ₱6,000 per screening, it comes out cheaper and safer for everyone.

This is the new landscape that we moviegoers are facing. Producers, filmmakers, actors, cinema owners, streaming companies have to reassess and readapt to this new normal of movie watching.

Stop bashing the local movies, go watch Big Night!, Kun Maupay Man It Panahon, and A Hard Day this week at the cinemas.

 
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