Hits and misses at the tills: Philippine movies in 2011

by Nickie Wang

The world is evolving and changing rapidly and so as the film industry, thus saying a film is great is subjective. Technology in filmmaking has developed remarkably compared to the technique used a decade ago and the ideas are just more developed.

Now, as we experience significant changes in moviemaking, do are local movies able to keep up with these changes? It could be an extremely long explanation but we have gone tired of knocking on the doors of mainstream film outfits to give us intelligent, original and highly entertaining films hence it’s useless to enumerate their weaknesses and blunders. And since we do not have a credible body that adjudges local films, might as well find how the media consumers, the audiences themselves, received our locally-made flicks.

This year has been quite a fruitful year for the domestic box office with two local movies breaching the elusive P200-million-mark in gross revenues, one of it even earned more than what the highly-publicized Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part Two) earned during its entire run at the local cinemas. In this respect, it seemed like a logical time to take a look back at the big hits and big flops at the local tills.

Viva Films and Star Cinema proved that it takes two to tango as four of its major collaboration movies raked in a whooping P800 million worth of ticket sales to date. Its latest offering Won’t Last a Day Without You is doing well earning P78.9  million after three weeks of commercial run.

With this financial milestone, local moviegoers expect that more films will be released next year. However, commercial success is not always tantamount to movie greatness. What will we do with financially viable movies if after a while we would forget about them? Say for example Praybeyt Benjamin. The highest grossing local film of all time (P331. 06 million gross revenue), may be big at the box office or may have spawned popular pick up lines, but does the movie spell quality? From technical to creative aspects, we can’t still compare it with big foreign movies that hit out theaters. One political humorist even said, “Kumita lang [ng malaki] maganda na, pwede bang hyped muna?”

Releasing a comedy flick is the most tested formula to woo local fans. In fact, the highest earning films this year are all comedy. Veteran actor Vic Sotto’s movie with Bea Alonzo was Mzet Films’ biggest movie. It earned P77.15 million, a figure good enough to land number five in the list of top-grossers this year.

Films worth mentioning in the comedy genre are GMA Films and Regal Films’ Temptation Island (P60 million), a remake of the ‘80s camp classic, Viva Films’ Who’s That Girl (P58 million) and Star Cinema’s horror-comedy Bulong (P67.27 million).

Though comedy seemed to be a surefire hit, the formula did not work with Melai Cantiveros and Jayson Francisco’s launching movie The Adventure of Pureza: Queen of the Riles and Toni Gonzaga and Eugene Domingo’s Wedding Tayo, Wedding Hindi. They are both flop by Star Cinema standard. The first only earned less than P20 million, a total disappointment to Sine Screen, a division of Star Cinema. No wonder, the reality series couple does not have any movie project yet in the offing. Meanwhile, Wedding Tayo, Wedding Hindi registered P37 million worth of ticket sales.

With a slight touch of comedy, romcom is probably the most passé movie genre on local movie scene. And because romcom sells, several movies in this genre were released this year hoping that they will rake in big bucks. First on the list is Sarah Geronimo and Gerald Anderson’s Catch Me I’m in Love. It is the most successful romantic comedy of 2011 (and the third most successful local film of the year) closing its commercial run with P120.21 million. It is followed by My Valentine Girls (P44.26 million), a trilogy starring Richard Gutierrez.

Adult drama made a comeback this year with No Other Woman at the forefront. A runner up to the Vice Ganda-starrer Praybeyt Benjamin with P276 million earnings, No Other Woman paved the way to flicks with mature themes. Prior to that blockbuster picture, we have also seen My Neighbor’s Wife of Regal Films. It is top-billed by Jake Cuenca, Lovi Poe, Carla Abellana and Dennis Trillo. Though it falls on the same category, the Regal Films-produced flick only earned P27.56 million, just a fraction of the gross revenue of Anne Curtis, Cristine Reyes and Derek Ramsay movie.

Considering the performance of family drama this year, it is safe to say, that this genre is the least popular. Fresh from the success of their top-rating primetime series Mara Clara, Kathryn Berbardo and Julia Montes debuted on the big screen with Way Back Home. The film stumbled at the tills with just P25.79 million and was only shown for two weeks. Ikaw Ang Pag-ibig, another Star Cinema-distributed picture, suffered terribly at the box office with revenue not even enough for its producers to break even. Same goes with Viva Films’ horror flick Tumbok (P10.53 million) and the biggest loser in the mainstream cinema Tum: My Pledge of Love (P5.16) starring real life couple Robin Padilla and Mariel Rodriguez. The romantic film was partly shot in India.

Indie films have their own share at the box office pie. Two independently-produced movies made history on local cinema for earning more than expected. For films with a budget of more or less a million pesos (by Cinemalaya standards), Ang Babae Sa Septic Tank (P30 million) and Zombadings 1: Patayin sa Shokot si Remington (P32 million) are already considered box office hits.

On the other hand, it’s not the same faith that happened to Thelma, an inspirational family-drama film released by Star Cinema with Maja Salvador portraying the title role. Though it received an “A” rating from the Cinema Evaluation Board, P1.35 million box office gross is an obvious nightmare for people who expected that this indie film would do well.

While there are winners and losers, we also have films that we can be categorized as decent players. These are Star Cinema’s Forever and a Day (P44 million), GMA Films’ Tween Academy: Class of 2012 (P32.23 million) and Regal Films’ Aswang (P31. 28 million). Meanwhile, GMA Films’ thriller The Road is showing impressive mark as it registers P31.24 million as its cumulative earnings in two weeks.

Next year, some of the top-grossers are expected to have their sequels, in fact, Praybeyt Benjamin 2 is already in the works. With the amount of money it earned, we hope that it will focus more on developing logical script or a decent story line. And since we cannot depend on local films when it comes to cinematography and sound engineering, we hope that least, the sequel can be something original, otherwise we would request for our money’s full refund.

Top-Grossing Pinoy Films in 2011

1. Praybeyt Benjamin – P331.6M
2. No Other Woman – P276.8-M
3. Catch Me…I’m In Love – P120.21M
4. In the Name of Love – P117.2M
5. Won’t Last A Day Without You – P78.9M (as of Dec. 18, or 3 week-gross)
6. Pak! Pak! My Dr. Kwak! – P72.31M
7. Bulong – P67.27M
8. Temptation Island – P60-M
9. Who’s That Girl? – P58.31M
10. Forever and a Day – P44.73M

11. My Valentine Girls – P44.26M
12. Wedding Tayo, Wedding Hindi – P37.46M
13. The Road – P34-M *
14. Zombadings 1: Patayin sa Shokot si Remington – P32.28-M
15. Tween Academy: Class of 2012 – P32.23M
16. Aswang – P31.28-M
17. Ang Babae sa Septic Tank – P30.26M
18. My Neighbor’s Wife – P27.56M
19. Way Back Home – P25.78-M
20. The Adventures of Pureza: Queen of the Riles – P19.84-M
21. Tumbok – P10.53M
22. Ikaw ang Pag-ibig – P5.5M
23. Tum: My Pledge of Love – P5.16M
24. Thelma – P1.35M

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