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Some MMFF entries may get extended screening following festival's historic P1.069 billion income, spokesperson says

By NICK GARCIA Published Jan 11, 2024 2:43 pm

The spokesperson for the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) said the screening of some entries in the 2023 edition may be extended again after the festival made a historic P1.069 billion last Jan. 7—and broke the 2018 edition’s record of P1.061 billion.

Noel Ferrer told PhilSTAR L!fe in a text message that some entries might still be available after the new Jan. 14 deadline. The 2023 MMFF was originally meant to run until Jan. 7.

“Some (entries) are still doing better than the new films being shown now,” he said.

In a guesting over on CNN Philippines’ New Day, Ferrer noted they were only aiming to surpass the 2022 MMFF’s record of P500 million, but a different kind of audience nowadays paved the way for the new record.

“Unlike before, they’ll just spend as much money as Christmas Day,” he said. “Toward the end of the festival run, people came to cinemas in hordes to have the last chance to catch the films after getting a lot of feedback and reviews.”

Ferrer also told L!fe that the 2023 MMFF’s success can be attributed to not only the star power of the entries’ cast but also to the storylines.

“Pre-pandemic MMFF highest grossers are usually top-billed by A-list stars,” he said. “Now, it is a bit more nuanced. Content is of primary importance. Story is king. They drive the audience to the cinemas and back; not  just the stars and popular celebrities.”

He cited as example how Nadine Lustre edged out Vice Ganda in the 2022 edition when the horror movie Deleter won best picture. Last year’s history biopic GomBurZa and fantasy drama Firefly also eclipsed movies starring Sharon Cuneta and Vilma Santos.

Though Ferrer noted that while awards do matter, good word of mouth is also necessary.

The spokesperson referred to the success of the Dingdong Dantes- and Marian Rivera-led romance movie Rewind, which didn’t win any awards but is the festival’s highest-grossing entry to date.

“We just hope we’ll have more original Filipino narratives that would appeal to wider audiences in the years to come,” Ferrer said.

He also highlighted how celebrities went beyond attending the traditional press conferences, television guestings, and the MMFF parade to promote their respective movies.

According to Ferrer, they also did theater tours, meet and greet, block screenings, and advance ticket selling. Social media campaigns and other promo bundles with restaurants, sponsors, and merchandise incentives also helped.

“The pandemic has taught us to explore creative ways of promoting the festival and the film entries,” Ferrer said.

Adorning Metro Manila with tarpaulins and billboards showing the MMFF entries was also a factor, he added.

“Visibility is the name of the game,” Ferrer said.

Ferrer told CNN the 2023 MMFF entries will participate in the inaugural Manila International Film Festival from Jan. 29 to Feb. 4 in Los Angeles, California.

He said they’ll also launch yet another campaign to get a historic nomination at the Academy Awards or Oscars and the Golden Globe Awards.

MMFF officials are also looking to work with cinemas to screen old entries at a lower price to “refresh” the Filipino audiences about “really good old films.” They’re also planning to publish a book on MMFF that would serve as a reference for film students and enthusiasts.

Nevertheless, Ferrer said a lot must still be done to improve not only the MMFF but also the local film industry as a whole.

“It’s a road to the 50th anniversary,” he said. “We’ve waited too long for this.”

For its 2023 edition, the MMFF has 10 entries instead of the usual eight, handpicked from the 26 scripts that 32 production companies had submitted for consideration.