To keep the tradition alive, and ensure that it will generate enough buzz, the 41st edition of the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) gathers box office greats, festival staples and prominent onscreen pairs in local showbiz.
As common knowledge, MMFF is the kind of festival where commercial viability of the movie is essentially based not on the films technicality – its screenplay, cinematography, editing, musical score and originality (of the story) – but on the status of the stars cast as the central characters. And that’s the reason why production houses that join the festival every year give audiences the very same kind of films each time.
This year is no different. There are a total of eight films, and each entry hopes to snare the lion’s share of this annual event, which earns at least P1 billion each year, by casting this generation’s hottest and bankable stars and love teams. But of course not everyone will get the share they desire for a simple reason that not all tandems have the spark and indescribable charm to rope audiences in to see them at the cinemas.
While these film entries battle it out for the top film or Best Picture plum, which is determined partly by the movie’s box office performance, there’s a lingering question as to which tandem will be a big draw.
Jennylyn Mercado and Jericho Rosales’ pairing in Walang Forever is simply an experiment. Producers of the movie hope for a repeat performance of the 2014 surprise box office hit English Only Please top-billed by Jennylyn and Derek Ramsay.
Cesar Montano and Maria Ozawa’s Nilalang is not the type of silver screen affair MMFF patrons would want to see. It’s too dark for the mood of people who anticipate the film event from Christmas Day until the first week of the New Year.
It is the same dilemma for the art house movie Honor Thy Father starring John Lloyd Cruz and Meryll Soriano. Although we want more intelligent and original films, Honor Thy Father, which became an official entry when period film Hermano Pule was pulled out, is obviously in the wrong festival.
Haunted Mansion, on the other hand, is a Shake Rattle & Roll in disguise only it’s not a trilogy. And the MarNel (Marlo Mortel and Janela Salvador) tandem still doesn’t have a big fan base to summon to occupy the tills to cakk the film they star in the one to beat. In fact, even before their film is launched Janella is now being paired with Elmo Magalona. It could be an indication that MarNel is simply dispensable.
And we have Buy Now, Die Later, which banks on the comedic chops of Vhong Navarro, John Lapus, and Alex Gonzaga. We don’t see this film outperforming the others. For consolation, you might want to see it for the lack of a better choice.
Now it all boils down to just three onscreen pairs: Alden Richards and Maine Mendoza; James Reid and Nadine Lustre; and Kim Chiu and Xian Lim otherwise known as ALDub, JaDine and KimXi, respectively. They are the only onscreen pairs that matter in this year’s MMFF.
My Bebe Love: Kilig Pa More! is a litmus test for both Alden and Maine who don’t have any box office track record yet as screen couple. But many say that we cannot underestimate the couple since they are regarded as the hottest television properties at the moment. If their phenomenal success wouldn’t work on silver screen, the film still has Vic Sotto and AiAi delas Alas as its trump cards anyway.
Meanwhile, JaDine doesn’t have to prove anything in terms of its box office appeal. Since James and Nadine were practically known as movie stars first their inclusion in Beauty and the Bestie aims to compliment Vice Ganda and Coco Martin’s unlikely pairing.
In the case of Kim Chiu and Xian Lim (KimXi), although they’ve starred in a couple of mildly successful romcoms, they are actually the weakest link among the three love teams. But we can’t discount their box office appeal yet. Kim and Xian still have a large fan base that can go all the way to buying movie tickets to see the two, hence All You Need is Pag-ibig producers chose them instead of casting an up-coming onscreen pair.