A surprise box office hit

A good friend asked why he hardly sees any Felix Manalo movie posts on his Facebook newsfeed when in fact with a 150-million-peso production cost it is considered the biggest film of the year, not to mention its stellar cast of more than 50 actors and a thousand members of Iglesia Ni Cristo.

I retorted, “Why do you share something with your friends on social media? Three things – you want them to see something really funny, interestingly inspirational or something very entertaining.”

Case in point, Heneral Luna once flooded our Facebook walls when it was shown in local theaters in September. On its opening week, only a few people were watching the historical film, but through positive word of mouth and a number of favorable reviews shared on social media, people were encouraged to see the historical biopic. People were intrigued and those who saw the film encouraged more people to see it. Some cinemas that pulled out the film after five days (the normal shelf life of an indie film in commercial cinemas) had added additional dates to accommodate growing demand and surging ticket sales. Hence, it’s whopping P250 million box office gross makes perfect sense now. It is a surprise hit and now a certified box office.

But same thing cannot be said of Felix Manalo. Although it has already earned P193 million as of Oct. 25, scorched box office records earning P50 million on its opening day, and received two certifications from Guinness World Records, still we don’t see the same response and excitement local moviegoers have for the film. Perhaps quoting what Cherie Gil said would give you a better picture. The character actress “was enthusiastically waiting” for the Oct. 30 showing of Heneral Luna in New York but got disappointed when Felix Manalo was the one being shown.

“Ayoko manuod neto [sic]! (I don’t want to watch this),” she punctuated her Facebook post, which is accompanied by a poster featuring Dennis Trillo as the first executive minister of the religious group.

Both films are big in many ways – they stand out with one being the highest-grossing historical film and with the other being the most expensive local film ever produced. And they obviously did well in furthering the film career of the actors playing the starring roles.  But in the metric of success, a successful film is the one whose earnings exceed its expenses. Additionally, beyond this monetary aspect, the film that has reached and engaged more audience is considered more successful.

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