An hour after midnight on Nov. 26, Star Cinema, through its official Instagram account, announced the P43.3 million first day gross of the film A Second Chance top-billed by John Lloyd Cruz and Bea Alonzo. It came with a caption “The highest non-MMFF 1st day opening for a Filipino movie.”
Three days later, the film production arm of ABS-CBN updated its more than 300 thousand followers on the mobile photo-sharing app that the romantic film posted a whopping P200-million gross receipts, which is the same as the five-day gross of the Daniel Padilla-Kathryn Bernardo starrer romcom, Crazy Beautiful You only the first did it in less than five days. As of this writing the film has breached the P400-million mark. It has earned P442 million in just 10 days.
It came as no surprise to many that this Star Cinema film has been doing very well at the tills, its prequel was a monster hit and the lead actors have starred in a string of highly successful movies together.
What really made A Second Chance so successful? Why, it’s on its way to break box office records.
Encouraged by its outstanding first day performance at the box office, I decided to give A Second Chance a visit at the nearest cinema. I bought two tickets, the last two seats for a 9:45 p.m. screening.
While fixing my snack tray, John Lloyd Cruz appeared on the screen. There were audible sounds among the audience, a validation that they came to the movie house for the actor. But that’s not the movie yet; it was the trailer of Honor Thy Father. It was then followed by another trailer, this time a Kris Aquino-starrer, another Metro Manila Film Festival movie, then another MMFF entry followed – the Coco Martin – Vice Ganda film. All Star Cinema movies shown in quick succession as if telling me (in not so subtle way) that these are the films that I should see next. Then finally, the movie I came to see began.
To say it succinctly, the romantic drama ended the way it started. The film unfolds with Popoy (John Lloyd) and Basha (Bea) being interviewed by a Psychology student on how they’ve been since tying the knot almost seven years ago. Looking tired and uncomfortable, the couple answers with less enthusiasm – a totally different picture of what they were when they made their vows before the altar and was enjoying their first years of marriage.
At the end of the movie, the Psychology student, a follow up on their aborted first meeting, interviews Popoy and Basha again. This time the couple looks relaxed and obviously happy.
What happened in between is the real meat of this Cathy Garcia-Molina helmed project. Of course, it’s the collection of cheesy lines; romantic platitudes and other conversations that sounded so real one would think he’s listening to a bipolar couple living just next door. And that’s what most people came to the movie house for – to wait for hugot lines good enough as a Facebook status.
It’s tempting to classify A Second Chance as a beautiful romantic drama because it mirrors the real challenges of millennial couples. And yet, as clear as the film’s message, it’s distinctly just about two people who have matured, like the actors that play them, but did not grow in creative sense. And we have to blame the writers here. They’re too constricted with the formula and they’re afraid to travel around other marital complexities. They just toy around (for two hours) with Popoy being a failure and Basha as a submissive wife. Then turn of events happens too quickly it lasts for four minutes or the same length of the default soundtrack of the movie, “I’ll Never Go.”
The truth is, the romance between Popoy and Basha is simply like a big screen extension of a well-loved teleserye – it bites then it will bite you more until you get hooked on it that even when already annoying you still follow the long harrowing love and hate journey of the central characters. Yet, this weakness, apparently, turns out to be its strength since people are still into teleseryes, which use a single formula, only different characters.
It’s inevitable to compare it with One More Chance that offers raw emotions and explores more relationship possibilities than rebuilding a marriage that’s on the brink of collapse. Though it’s predictable that the sequel was headed to that direction, it could have been much more sweeping if the reason of their conflict and tears were a complete perplexing test love, loyalty and faithfulness. A Second Chance falls short in giving the viewers a more mature storytelling, even the ending, although sweet, is not as impressive as most people expected.
That’s commercial romantic drama for you. If not because of John Lloyd and Bea’s perfect chemistry, A Second Chance wouldn’t stand any chance of making it big at the box office. Had they cast a different tandem, the film would be boring and forgettable.