We present our Final Report about the Metro Manila Film Festival 2017.
Note: We recommend reading this article on a laptop.
This Report aims to provide a clear view of the film screening distribution during the 2017 Metro Manila Film Festival. It will also shed light on how Theater Chains treat films during the festival. We will first explain how we created the database used for this report. After that we will introduce the MMFF to those not familiarized with it. Then we will present our data with different charts and graphics. A more detail report about Ang Larawan’s journey though the festival will be presented with this report. Our aim is to be as neutral and objective as we can, presenting data as we found it. To close our report we will give our observations and conclusions. We hope this Report is of interest to the MMFF, Filmmakers, and Producers to make the necessary adjustments to improve the festival. Thanks for your time.
The research covered 167 Venues nationwide, 65 from the National Capital Region (NCR) and 102 from in the rest of the Provinces (List of the venues can be seen HERE). Data was gathered from ClickTheCity.com and Theater Chain Official Websites from December 25th, 2017 to January 7th, 2018. ClickTheCity.com daily schedule for each Venue was screenshot and saved in a PDF as a backup. The time of data recollection was from 10 pm until 12 pm (Manila Time). Daily data was transferred into an Excel File for further analysis. We published the stats for each day in our website. We recomend reading this report on a laptop.
About the MMFF
The Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF), created in 1975, is an annual event held across the Philippines during the last week of December and the first week January. It is organized by the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA). During the festival Cinemas are obligated to screen only those films which have been approved by the Jurors of the MMFF. No foreign films can be shown except in 3D and IMAX theaters. The MMFF Executive Committee chooses 8 films to be screened at the festival.
One of the festival highlights is a parade of floats the day before the festivals starts. Usually the Parade is held in Manila but this year it was held in Muntinlupa to celebrate the centennial of the city’s founding as a Municipality.
The MMFF website states that the mission of the festival is to “celebrate Filipino artistic, excellence, promote audience development, and champion the sustainability of the Philippine film industry.” Their vision is to “develop audiences for and encourage the production of quality Filipino films, and to promote the welfare of its workers.”
During the launch ceremony held on March 7th, 2017 the MMFF Executive Committee (ExeCom) announced some changes. The ExeCom would now include more sectors from the cinema industry – professionals’ representatives from the academe, government, media and private sector. They removed Moira Lang (Scriptwriter), Ed Cabangot (Academe) and replace them with Rickly Lee and Rolando Tolentino. They also added representatives of the heater Chains; Edgar Tejerero (from SM Lifestyle Entertainment Inc.), Rolando Duenas (General Manager from Ayala Mall Cinemas), Christina Caparas (General Manager of the Vista Mall Cinemas), and Evylene Advincula (Operation Manager for Robinsons Movieworld). Vilma Santos (Batangas Congresswoman) and Laarni Cayetano (Mayor of Taguig City) were also added to the ExeCom. This year ExeCom had 25 members.
The MMFF also reinstalled movie script submissions, something that was taken from the 2016 edition. Erik Matti who was very critical of the MMFF stated: “[Only accepting finished films as entries] helps the industry. Because that’s the only way you can judge a film. When it’s just a script, it leaves your work open to interpretation. What you like on paper may not be the same when it’s shot. A film can only be judged when you see a film, not the script.” – MMFF reinstates movie script submissions for 2017 entries. (2017, May 8th). Spot PH.
Another big change was the criteria used in determining the final 8 entries. Commercial appeal or viability represented 40% of the criteria, Artistic Excellence 40%, Filipino Cultural and/or historical value 10%, and Global Appeal 10%. The ExeCom was criticized for these changes as people believe that this was made to accommodate big mainstream studios that were ousted last year.
On July 1st 2017, when the first four films were announced Ricky Lee, Rolando Tolentino and Kara Magsanoc-Alikpala resigned the ExeCom due to failure to continue the reforms that occurred last edition. A join statement explained that they did not agree on the ExeCom and criticized them for “putting too much emphasis on commercial over art”. Some days later Ed Lejano also resigned the ExeCom.
On September 1st (2017) the MMFF presented the 8 short films that would accompany the Feature films in each screening. Then on November 17th, 2017 the festival presented the last four films to the public.
The Short Films picked were:
– Anino (Shadow) by Malaya Ad Castillo (Chrox Productions)
– What Happened to Nicanor Date? by Brian Spencer Reyes (EMJEI Film and Photographs)
– Black Market by Gio Gonzalves (Lakan Media Creatives)
– Crab Mentality by Joaquin Bamba (Independent)
– Gunita by Ryceanne Marie Manlulu (Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila)
– Isang Gabi (One Night) by Gio Gonzalves (Lakan Media Creatives)
– We Forgot about the Kids by Gilb Baldoza (University of the Philippines Film Institute)
– Noel by Win Gonzales (Go Motion Productions)
And the Feature films picked were:
– All of You by Dan Villegas (Quantum Films, MJM Productions)
– Gandarrapiddo: The Revenger Squad by Joyce Bernel (Star Cinema, Viva Films)
– Meant to Beh by Chris Martinez (OctoArts Films, M-Zet Productions, APT Entertainment)
– Ang Panday by Coco Martin
– Deadma Walking by Julius Alfonso (T-Rex Entertainment)
– Haunted Forest by Ian Loreños (Regal Entertainment)
– Ang Larawan by Loy Arcenas (Culturtain Musicat Productions)
– Siargao by Paul Soriano (Ten17 Productions)
The Awards Night took place on the 3rd night (December 27th) two days earlier compared to the 2016 edition.
During the 14 days that the festival run, there were a total of 50,381 screenings. Almost 43% of them were held in the NCR Region (21,493 screenings) and the rest throughout the Provinces (28,888 screenings). As expected SM Cinemas, which has more venues than any other Cinema Chains, was on top of the chart with 18,733 screenings nationwide (37.18 %). The movie with more screenings was Gandarrapiddo: The Revenger Squad with 15,046 screenings nationwide (29.86 %); 5,497 in the NCR Region and 9,549 throughout the country. And the least screened movie was Deadma Walking with only 3,180 screenings nationwide (6.31 %).
Best Picture: Ang Larawan
Best Director: Paul Soriano for Siargao
Best Actress: Joanna Ampil for Ang Larawan
Best Actor: Derek Ramsay for All of You
Best Supporting Actress: Jasmine Curtis-Smith for Siargao
Best Supporting Actor: Edgar Allan Guzman for Deadma Walking
Best Chil Performer: Baeby Baste for Meant To Beh
Best Screenplay: Carl Chavez, Dan Villegas and Mae Chua for All of You
Best Cinematography: Odyssey Flores for Siargao
Best Production Design: Gino Gonzales for Ang Larawan
Best Editing: Mark Victor for Siargao
Best Sound: Mark Locsin, Mikko Quizon, Jason Conanan and Kat Salinas for Siargao
Best Original Theme Song: “Alon” from Siargao – Hale
Best Musical Score: Ryan Cayabyab for Ang Larawan
Best Visual Effects: Ang Panday
Best Float: Deadma Walking
Gatpuno Antonio J. Villegas Cultural Award: Ang Larawan
Fernando Poe Jr. Memorial Award for Excellence: Ang Panday
People’s Choice Award: Gandarrapiddo: The Revenger Squad
Special Jury Prize: Nick Joaquin (posthumous) for Ang Larawan and Coco Martin for Ang Panday
Children’s Choice Award: Ang Panday
The screening distribution nationwide shows that Gandarrapiddo: The Revenger Squad lead the chart with almost 30% of the screenings, as expected the movie also lead in the NCR Region and the Province. One thing worth mentioning is that the two least screened movies Ang Larawan and Deadma Walking had a stronger presence in the NCR Region and not in the Province (they are at the bottom of the list). On the other hand movies like Haunted Forest and Meant to Beh who both finished in the middle of the chart (nationwide), were the least screened movies in the NCR Region.
Variation of distribution during the festival
Important note: you can see a huge decrease in the number of screenings in Dec. 31st and Jan. 1st. This is due to the fact that on Dec. 31st many Cinemas close their venues earlier due to New Year’s Eve and on Jan. 1st, SM Cinemas theaters didn’t operated.
Looking at the charts above we can say that in the first part of the festival (from Dec. 25th – Dec 31st) Theater Chains tried to accommodate their screening schedule to fit movies that had better performance at the box office. We can also see a decrease in the screenings for Ang Larawan and Deadma Walking, who were reported to be pull-out from Cinemas in the first days. Ang Larawan lost 18 venues nationwide in the second day and 6 in the third day. On the other hand Deadma Walking lost 13 in the second day and 7 in the third day. These movies would eventually brought back to the cinemas after the Awards Night on December 27th. We should also mention that the big variation of these movies was not in the Province but in the NCR Region.
On the second part of the festival (from Jan. 2nd – Jan. 7th) data shows that there weren’t big variations in the distribution. The exception of the festival was Siargao who’s screenings increase after January 1st and place them into the 3rd place.
Screening Distribution per Theatre Chain (Nationwide)
Important note: We group screenings by Theatre Chain. We consider six main Theatre Chains and the rest of the cinemas were grouped together under “Others”.
Screening Distribution by Theater Chains
Important note: We grouped screenings by Theatre Chain. We consider six main Theatre Chains and the rest of the Theaters were grouped together under “Others”.
Looking at the data above we can see how each cinema distributed their screening time to each film (Nationwide). One thing to remark is that Megaworld Lifestyle Mall Cinemas only gave Meant to Beh 27 screenings during the whole festival.
The positions of the official Box Office report, released on January 8th (2018) by the ExeCom, matches our Screening Distribution rank. On the top we have Gandarrapiddo: The Revenger Squad with PHP 540 million, who become the Top Box Office Scored in Filipino Cinema history. As expected the least box office scorer was Deadma Walking with PHP 26 Million. Overall the MMFF 2017 exceeded the 1.02 Billion mark.
From the charts above we can say that movies such as All for You, Ang Larawan and Siargao suffered a pull-out from cinemas in the first three days. On the other hand movies such as Gandarrapiddo: The Revenger Squad and Ang Panday continue to increase their screening number as well as the venue designation within Metro Manila. One last thing to remark is that Meant to Beh shown a decrease of 50% both in screenings and venues from Dec. 25th to Dec. 30th. Going from 200 screenings and 40 venues in the first day to only 107 screenings and 22 venues on December 30th.
On the positive side we can say that after the Awards Night (on December 27th), Ang Larawan and Siargao shown an increase in their screening number as well as the cinema designation. Further analysis about this movies will be detain in the next section.
In Depth: Ang Larawan
Ang Larawan (The Portrait) directed by Loy Arcenas had 3,274 screenings (6.5% of the total) nationwide thought-out the MMFF. The film that was first premiere on October 30th (2017) at the 30th Tokyo International Film Festival, was able to win 6 Awards at the MMFF for Best Picture, Best Actress, Special Jury Prize, Best Music Score, Best Production Design and got the Gatpuno Antonio J. Villegas Cultural Award.
But it wasn’t an easy journey for the movie. As we reported on December 27th, 2017 the film was pull from several venues. On an interview with DZMM (Dec. 26), Noel Ferrer MMFF Spokeperson said that this was a joint consent between Producers and Theater Owners due to the fact that the Box Office on the first day wasn’t that good in some areas. Cinemas agreed to increase the screening numbers after January 1st.
Important note: on Dec. 30 and Jan. 1 many cinemas didn’t operate, that’s the reason for the big drop in screenings.
Our data shows that the film opened with 186 screenings (on 41 venues) in the NCR. On the second day (Dec. 26) the film was dropped to 127 screenings (on 28 venues) and on the third day numbers continue to decline leaving the film with only 103 screenings (on 22 venues). It wasn’t after the Awards Night that Cinemas started to show this film again.
We wanted to see what happened in the first days with the movie so we plot our data into a map and we came up with a venue distribution map. From the image we can see that on the 3rd day there were areas without any screening. They complete removed the film from Manila, Malabon, Parañaque, Las Piñas and in Muntinlupa only two venues screened the film. On the other hand screenings in Makati, Mandalyong, Pasig and South of Quezon City didn’t suffered modifications.
From the chart above we can see that all Theater Chains decreased the number of screenings in the first three days. Only Ayala Mall Cinemas and Megaworld Lifestyle Malls Cinemas continued reducing screenings. SM Cinema having the most venues in Metro Manila quickly increased the screenings after December 27th.
During the past few days we have been in conversation with many filmmakers, producers and actors with the objective of understanding the statistics behind the Metro Manila Film Festival. We can finally say that this is a very unique and complex festival, which requires not only stats information but also some basic socio-economical comprehension of the Cinemas in the Philippines.
As someone pointed us out, we must see this stats in the proper context. And to do that we must talk about the time where the MMFF takes place, the characteristics of the Filipino Audience and the power of the Shopping Malls over the Cinema Theaters.
The Metro Manila Film Festival takes place during the holidays (Christmas and New Year), when many Filipinos go back to their provinces to celebrate with their families, and some OFW (Overseas Filipino Workers) go back home with some money they have managed to save to spend with their loved ones. This makes a perfect combination for people to flock the cinemas to enjoy the latest Filipino movies specially the commercial ones. We might not enjoy Vice Ganda (Filipino Entertainer) movies but we have to recognize that people love his movies, and each year his films break Box Office milestones. And this year was not the exception.
But where are Filipinos going to see the movies? Different to other countries where cinemas are located on the streets, in the Philippines most of the cinemas are located inside the Shopping Malls and are manage by them. This means the audience are in the vast majority middle class Shoppers and Students who attend Malls. People who can actually watch and re-watch films paying for each ticket around 300 Pesos (6 US$).
This also means that Mall Owners see Cinemas Theaters as a commodity. So if a film is not doing well they will take it out of the Billboard and replace it with another movie that is attracting more people. And here we wants to be fair, no one with a business want to lose money, because showing a movie for only ten persons is not “good business”. But here we must rise our first flag against the Mall Owners. This is not like any time in the year were “commercial liability” rule over the film distribution, here we are talking about the biggest Film Festival in the Country. Pull-outs when a movie didn’t sell well after one day are unacceptable.
It’s not the first time Cinema Owners do this during the MMFF and this year there were three movies (Ang Larawan, All of You, and Deadma Walking) pulled out from billboards in the first three days while other commercial movies were boosted and given more screen quota.
And here is where we would like to question the MMFF power over the cinemas and who are running the Festival. While the Noel Ferrer, MMFF Spokesperson, announced in his Instagram account that Theater representatives agreed not to release box office figures so as not to create a bandwagon effect on the views, and encourage people to support ALL the eight entries, but on paper things were completely different. Cinema Owners were pulling movies from cinemas. We think this is a total contradiction: shows a lack of respect towards the filmmakers & producers, and underestimate the Audience. We strongly disagree that showing Box Office numbers will flock cinemas more than actually pull out movies from cinemas. We also doubt the MMFF have “encouraged people to support all movies”, we have data showing that the MMFF social media accounts have in fact posted and tweeted nothing about the movies during the festival. The social media presence of this year is appalling to say the least, even in their official Facebook Page they didn’t even mention who won the awards.
We really wonder about the power of the festivals organizers over the Cinema owners. And who is driving the “jeepney”. We also question the mindset of the festival when it comes to milestones. We cover more than 200 film festivals, some very small and independent others big and recognized by the FIAPF, but we never saw a festival that cares so much about the box office as the MMFF. We would like to see a festival that thanks the audience not for their money but give more information about how many people have attended the festival.
To finish our report we would like to offer our humble suggestions on how to improve the MMFF.
– We strongly believe the MMFF should be in the hands of the Film Development Council of the Philippines instead of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority.
– Re impose the “Only finish films” rule for Submissions.
– Increase the number of Short Films, inviting filmmakers from the province to participate.
– Implement a “3 Day Lockdown” to assure the screening and don’t let Cinema Theaters to pull out films from Cinemas. Make sure Cinema Owners are commented partners towards promoting Filipino Cinema.
– Have Festival Programmers to coordinate with Cinema Owners to achieve the best distribution of films across Metro Manila.
– Improve online presence and promotion of the Festival & Films via their social media accounts. You can have some Live videos interviewing Directors, Actors, Producers and common Cinemagoers. Live Q&A with the audience, Workshops and Special Talks. Have Province Tours for each film crew to engage the audience and promote Local films.
– Update the Official website that was never touch since 2016.
– Stand for what the festival is supposed to do: Celebrate Filipino Artistic Excellence, promote audience development, champion sustainability of the Film Industry, develop and encourage the production of quality Filipino films, and promote the welfare of its workers.
We strongly believe this can be implemented if there is political commitment between all the parties involved. We invite people to talk about this matter enriching the conversation. We hope we can see big & deep changes for the next edition.
We recommend reading:
– ‘Reading’ and learning from the 2017 MMFF’s grosses by Nestor U. Torre (2018, January 25th) Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved from http://entertainment.inquirer.net/259184/reading-learning-2017-mmffs-grosses
– How do you solve a problem like the MMFF? by Shinji Manlangit (2018, January 8th). CNN Philippines. Retrieved from http://cnnphilippines.com/life/entertainment/film/2018/01/05/mmff-survey.html
– MMFF slow ticket sales affect beneficiaries most by Jennie P. Arado (2017, January 3rd). Sun Star. Retrieved from http://www.sunstar.com.ph/davao/local-news/2017/01/03/mmff-slow-ticket-sales-affect-beneficiaries-most-518206
– Spokesperson: MMFF challenges mainstream producers to improve. (2017, December 26th). CNN Philippines. Retrieved from http://cnnphilippines.com/entertainment/2017/12/26/Noel-Ferrer-MMFF-challenges-mainstream-improve.html
– Christmas at the movies: MMFF 2017 by Jose Javier Reyes (2017, December 27th). Choking on my Adobo. Retrieved from https://chokingonmyadobo.blogspot.com.ar/2017/12/christmas-at-movies-mmff-2017.html
MMFF Official Website – http://mmff.com.ph
MMFF Official Facebook Page – https://www.facebook.com/mmffofficial
MMFF Wikipedia Page – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metro_Manila_Film_Festival
MMFF 2017 Wikipedia Page – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2017_Metro_Manila_Film_Festival
Click the City – https://www.clickthecity.com/
Online News Articles
‘Gandarrapiddo: The Revenger Squad’ tops MMFF 2017 box office. (2018, January 8th). Rappler. Retrieved from https://www.rappler.com/life-and-style/specials/mmff/193944-gandarrapido-the-revenger-squad-tops-metro-manila-2017-box-office
‘MMFF put emphasis on commerce over art’ – resigned Execom members. (2017, July 5th). ABS-CBN News. Retrieved from http://news.abs-cbn.com/entertainment/07/05/17/mmff-put-emphasis-on-commerce-over-art-resigned-execom-members
3 MMFF ExeCom members resign after official entries announced. (2017, July 2nd). Rappler. Retrieved from https://www.rappler.com/entertainment/news/174442-mmff-2017-execom-resign-rolando-tolentino-ricky-lee-kara-magsanoc-alikpala
Afinidad-Bernardo, D.R.M. (2017, December 28th). MMFF 2017 sets record for highest 1st, 2nd day sales. Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved from http://www.philstar.com/entertainment/2017/12/28/1772543/mmff-2017-sets-record-highest-1st-2nd-day-sales
Bacungan, V.J. (2017, July 8th). MMFF 2017 Executive Committee member Ed Lejano resigns. CNN Philippines. Retrieved from http://cnnphilippines.com/entertainment/2017/07/08/mmff-2017-executive-committee-member-ed-lejano-resigns.html
Bajo, A.F. (2017, May 9th). No distinction between indie, mainstream films for 2017 MMFF. GMA News. Retrieved from http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/lifestyle/artandculture/610094/no-distinction-between-indie-mainstream-films-for-2017-mmff/story/
Chua, Z.B. (2017, July 4th). Initial MMFF entry selection generates controversy. Business World Online. Retrieved from http://www.bworldonline.com/content.php?section=Arts&Leisure&title=initial-mmff-entry-selection-generates-controversy&id=147649
Dumaul, M. (2017, March 9th). Pro-indie film members removed from MMFF execom. ABS-CBN News. Retrieved from http://news.abs-cbn.com/entertainment/03/08/17/pro-indie-film-members-removed-from-mmff-execom
Guno, N.V. (2017, July 2nd). MMFF execom members resign; failure of film fest to continue reforms cited. Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved from http://entertainment.inquirer.net/232609/mmff-execom-members-resign-failure-of-fest-to-continue-reforms-cited
MMFF 2017 calls for entries. (2017, May 6th). Rappler. Retrieved from https://www.rappler.com/entertainment/news/169049-mmff-2017-entries-rules
MMFF 2017 exceeds P1-billion mark. (2018, January 8th). Rappler. Retrieved from https://www.rappler.com/entertainment/news/193181-mmff-2017-box-office-update-screening-extension
MMFF 2017 rules out, deadlines. (2017, May 8th). Manila Standard. Retrieved from http://thestandard.com.ph/showbitz/tv-movies/236105/mmff-2017-rules-out-deadlines.html
MMFF 2017 stets new record for first two days. (2017, December 27th). Rappler. Retrieved from https://www.rappler.com/life-and-style/specials/mmff/189781-mmff-2017-sets-new-box-office-record-two-days
MMFF reinstates movie script submissions for 2017 entries. (2017, May 8th). Spot PH. Retrieved from https://www.spot.ph/entertainment/movies-music-tv/70082/new-mmff-2017-submission-rules-a00001-20170508
Nardo, J. (2017, March 9th). Vilma, Grace Poe, Liza Dino pasok sa bagong execom ng MMFF 2017. Bandera, Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved from http://bandera.inquirer.net/146757/vilma-grace-poe-liza-dino-pasok-sa-bagong-execom-ng-mmff-2017
Orias, E. (2017, March 8th). Vilma Santos, Grace Poe among new faces in MMFF execom. Malaya Business Insight. Retrieved from http://www.malaya.com.ph/business-news/entertainment/vilma-santos-grace-poe-among-new-faces-mmff-execomm
Ranoa-Bismark, M. (2018, January 22nd). MMFF reveals 2017 box office sales, ranking. The Philippine Star. Retrieved from http://www.philstar.com/entertainment/2018/01/22/1780305/mmff-reveals-2017-box-office-sales-ranking
Sallan, E.P. (2017, July 1st). 3 MMFF Execom members resign over announcementof first four entries. Interaksyon. Retrieved from http://www.interaksyon.com/3-mmff-execom-members-resign-over-announcement-of-first-four-entries/
San Diego Jr, B. (2017, July 13th). Three new MMFF Execom members named. Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved from http://entertainment.inquirer.net/234180/three-new-mmff-execom-members-named
Tantiangco, A. (2017, July 5th). MMFF problem goes beyond four entries, former execom members. GMA News. Retrieved from http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/lifestyle/artandculture/616943/mmff-problem-goes-beyond-four-entries-former-execom-members-say/story/
Why ‘Ang Larawan’ was pulled from cinemas. (2017, December 27th). ABS-CBN. Retrieved from http://news.abs-cbn.com/entertainment/12/27/17/why-ang-larawan-was-pulled-from-cinemas
Zurbano, J.E. (2017, July 6th). ‘Commerce over art’ triggers filmfest row. Manila Standard. Retrieved from http://thestandard.com.ph/news/national/241168/-commerce-over-art-triggers-filmfest-row.htm
Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (2017, March 7th). MMFF Launches 43rd Film Festival; Announces New Execom Members. Retrieved from http://www.mmda.gov.ph/44-news/news-2017/2425-mmff-launches-41st-film-festival-announces-new-execom-members
Noel Ferrer’s Instagram Account. (2017, December 27th). Retrieved from https://www.instagram.com/p/BdJocpbHJG-/?hl=en&taken-by=iamnoelferrersoi