By Jullie Y. Daza
On the first day of Christmas, which was also the first day of the Metro Manila Film Festival, ticket buyers already had an idea who would be the big winner, not of awards but monetary rewards. As early as the first screening in the Greenhills cineplex, ticket counters showed Vice Ganda’s The Revengers walking away with the gold, his best revenge after his entry was rejected last year. In upscale Rockwell, Makati, however, it was Ang Larawan ruling the roost, despite some 25 theater owners elsewhere pulling it out due to low ticket sales.
More of the sweet revenge was to come later. Two days after Christmas, Revengers was named the People’s Choice for no reason other than being the MMFF box-office champion. Unofficially, the tills rang jingle bells to the tune of P80 million on opening day (despite an MMDA caveat that no revenue reports would be released to give all eight movies a fighting chance to win the fans’ affection). And Larawan, which was a sleeper until it was adjudged best picture, is now almost assured, automatically, of a new and utterly photogenic role at the box office.
The people have spoken. They voted overwhelmingly with their kids for a movie that can only raise the eyebrows of critics and the intelligentsia, but what do the children care, as long as they’d have their fun with two hours of silly silver-screen nonsense? Their elders, on the other hand, will now be guided, like children, to take a shot at appreciating a movie considered too high-brow for the mass market. What, they never heard of Nick Joaquin, never heard the songs of Celeste, Dulce, Joanna, Rachel? What, they’re beyond the finer things in life and art, such as a remembrance of times past set to music against a finely embroidered tapestry of set design, costumes, props?
At the end of the screening day, it’s the moviegoers who decide, one ballot, one ticket (P280) at a time, and it’s their choices that count, while we hold our breath waiting for the people to “mature” – which do you think will come first, a mature electorate or a mature movie audience?
For now, the only predictable future is the certainty that the 2018 MMFF will definitely raise admission prices yet again, and keep them there until the next and the next festival, no The End there.