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Why do local films flop?

Why do local films flop?


In August, the Film Development Council of the Philippines will conduct a market research will conduct a market research to understand what films entice audiences. “There were a lot of local films that flopped recently. We want to know why,” FDCP Chair Chair Liza Diño told Inquirer.

The inadequate audience local films get is not a new problem. While the global film audience receives Filipino films well, there has been a lack of support locally. “They appreciated only the win, because not everybody is interested in film. They’re interested in ‘nanalo siya’,” acclaimed director Brillante Mendoza told us in an interview last year.

While the FDCP has to find out what appeals to the audience yet, here are some of the external factors that affect the success of a film:

“What is killing Philippine Cinema, then, is none other than commercialism,” screenwriter Clodualdo del Mundo, Jr. writes in an essay.

Back in the day, standalone theaters would show films for an ample amount of time. This day, however, the length of time given to a film is measured by how it fares in the box-office. Movies change every week and if a film doesn’t do well, a new profitable movie replaces it. Often, independent films are a victim of this cycle.

Not all films are easily blockbuster hits, however. “Not all films are blockbusters or were made in blockbuster mode. Some may become sleeper hits, some may become even bigger than those marketed as blockbusters,” screenwriter and film producer Moira Lang told us in an interview last year.

Such is the case of Jerrold Tarog’s Heneral Luna. When the film first came out, it didn’t do well in the box-office and some theaters have pulled out the film after just a few days. However, with the help of social media, rave reviews spread like wildfire and more people went to theaters to see the film. According to Lang, films need to stay in theaters for at least two weeks to gain a hold of viewers.

Fortunately, independent theaters like Cinema ’76 and government-funded cinematheques are giving independent films an avenue. Recently, SM Cinemas have also made a partnership with FDCP to screen various independent films across the country through Cine Lokal. The partnership, which lasts for three years, aims to give independent cinema a commercial venue, where they may gain audience.

Another reason is the prevalence of piracy. In the advent of technology, piracy became more widespread. Before, a low-quality pirated DVD would cost P50. Now, all you need is internet access and a mobile device. Pirated copies of really recent films are easily accessible on Torrent, YouTube, and even Facebook.

Last year, director Antoinette Jadaone slammed those who watched a leaked copy of her movie The Achy Breaky Hearts. “Sometimes, Filipinos are the ones destroying our own (film) industry,” she said in a tweet.

“It has been viewed and shared 202,144 times, multiply it to P200 and you come up with P40 million and counting. That’s how much you stole from the movie industry tonight. That’s how much you are stealing from people who worked hard and fairly,” screenwriter Henry dela Cruz, Jr. also lamented on Facebook.

Lack of film education

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Brillante Mendoza. Photography by Jake Vezosa

“Let’s face it, we are not film educated,” Mendoza said. Mendoza considers film as art that requires an acquired taste. While there is an abundance of film festivals and independent films, Mendoza finds the need for the inclusion of film studies in the Philippine educational system. “Art, in general, should [be taken] seriously as early as elementary,” he said that film and art in general should be viewed like how mathematics and science are viewed in school.


Writer: OLIVER EMOCLING © 2020. Hinge Inquirer Publications, Inc.


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