A revival of Philippine Cinema

THERE seems to be a renewed interest on local cinema lately. After the successful run of films shown at the MMFF last year, and the record-breaking performance of local movies at the tills, the future of local cinema looks brighter than ever.

Piolo Pascual in Starting Over Again

To date, out of 19 films released in the first quarter of 2014, three films have already breached the P100-million mark: Starting Over Again, Bride For Rent and Diary ng Panget, which is still showing at the local multiplexes.

Star Cinema’s Starting Over Again, top-billed by Piolo Pascual and Toni Gonzaga, has hit P410-million and currently rules local box office earning more than what global blockbusters Captain America: The Winter Soldier (P288 million), 300: Rise of an Empire (P145 million) and Robocop (P96 million) in local theaters. The romantic comedy dominated local box office for three consecutive weeks from Feb. 12 to March 2, the only local film to achieve this feat.

As of April 1, according to a reputable Los Angeles-based Hollywood news site, the film had already earned $1.74 million or P78.38 million in the United States after being screened in 52 cinemas and theaters. In Australia, based on Box Office Mojo, it earned P 4.1 million bringing the film’s combined domestic and international box office gross to P491 million.

Meanwhile, the Kim Chiu and Xian Lim-starrer Bride for Rent, another Star Cinema feature, created a relatively high benchmark at the onset of the year. After six weeks of commercial release, the rom-com ended its run registering P326 million in revenues. It earned an additional P20 million in its run in North America.

On the other hand, Viva Film’s first blockbuster movie for the year is making a lot of buzz amid having James Reid as the only recognizable name in its cast. His onscreen partner, Nadine Lustre, has appeared in some television shows prior but her name still doesn’t ring a bell until she snagged the Diary ng Panget’s title role. The teen summer flick has already earned P105 million at the local tills as of this writing.

Box office bombs

Although there seems to be an apparent revival of Philippine cinema based on the revenues of the movies mentioned above, there are films that suffered terribly at the box office. Take for example Viva Film’s ABNKKBSNPLAko?! The Movie, and the flick that aimed to revive the action genre, Sa Ngalan Ng Ama, Ina at mga Anak.

Jericho Rosales in ABNKKBSANPLAKO

The comedy flick featuring Jericho Rosales and Andi Eigenmann is very promising until its theatrical release. Moviegoers did not fork out P200 out of their pockets to watch the movie, which is based on the more popular and best-selling book written by Bob Ong.

Graded A by CEB (Cinema Evaluation Board) and was even lauded and endorsed by Film Development Council of the Philippines, the film is a series of outrageously funny vignettes, each episode could even stand as class A short but when put together, they form a bad movie.

The blame though must not be put on Jericho and Andi’s shoulders. They are already big stars by any showbiz standards. It is the filmmaker’s fault for not being able to translate what’s written in the novel into a decent movie with a discernible storyline. This comedy was pulled out of the local theaters after earning a little less than P9 million. Its nostalgic appeal apparently turned the audience away.

Another proof that big stars don’t always make a commercial viable movie is the action film Sa Ngalan Ng Ama, Ina at mga Anak. The movie, which is three years in the making, is a joint project of Star Cinema and RCP Productions and assembles the Padilla clan for the very first time. It lists Robin Padilla, Mariel Rodriguez, Kylie Padilla, Bela Padilla, Daniel Padilla, Mathew Padilla, RJ Padilla, Kiray, Kathryn Bernardo and Christopher De Leon as its cast (with this in mind, it is safe to suggest not to have Robin-Mariel appear in another film project).

The film centers on the essence of solidarity and love for family and is loosely based on the life story of Ongkoy (played Robin) who was once the leader of the infamous anti-vigilante group “Kuratong Baleleng” that gained notoriety in Ozamiz City during the ‘70s. The producer of the film is too ashamed to even disclose what the film earned at the local tills. To be fair, hundreds of people attended the movie’s premiere, but was hardly enough to make up for its huge box-office losses as no one returned to the actual screening to witness a cinematic roadkill.

A few local movies are released in April and a couple more are going be released in May. Scenema Concepts International’s mainstream but indie-treated Echoserang Frog already failed, Star Cinema and Regal Films’ Da Possessed, despite being a run-of-the-mill, is showing a lot of potential, and so is Regal’s So It’s You. Which film will continue the winning streak of local movies in the box office?

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