As agreed among producers, theater operators and other stakeholders, the Metro Manila Film Festival 2017 executive committee declined to release box office figures and ranking of the eight entries soon after the festival opened on Christmas Day so as not to create a “bandwagon effect” on audience preference.
However, after the Gabi ng Parangal on December 27, the otherwise “weak” entry, “Ang Larawan,” made a resurgence and was screened in theaters anew winning Best Picture. The musical movie also won the Gatpuno Antonio J. Villegas Cultural Award, Best Actress for Joanna Ampil, Best Musical Score, Best Production Design and Special Jury Prize (posthumous) for its writer, National Artist Nick Joaquin.
Per audience preference, bookers and theater tellers, Coco Martin’s “Ang Panday” and Vice Ganda’s “Gandarrapido: The Revenger Squad” were the top two favorites. Also strong in ticket sales were “Siargao,” which was Second Best Picture; “Deadma Walking;” and “All Of You,” which was named Third Best Picture; and horror-themed “Haunted Forest.”
Although “Meant To Beh” was said to be attracting audiences as well, it was no longer screening in several theatres as of December 31, and especially in the festival’s second week into the New Year.
Meanwhile, two days before the festival officially ended on January 7, MMFF executive committee chairman Tim Orbos announced that the gross receipts were expected to breach the P1 billion mark, approximating the earnings of 2015 and tripling the box office of 2016’s indie-film dominated edition.
Orbos, in an official statement, said that the biggest achievement this year is “bringing back our kababayans to the theaters.”
Meanwhile, organizers, led by screening committee chairman, National Artist Bienvenido Lumbera, said, “Now that we have the audience and the revenues back on track, we are committed to continue making quality productions that would satisfy and enrich our general film audiences.”
This year’s MMFF has already set a record of sorts with the first and second day gross sales surpassing the earnings of the 2015 edition.
Several moviegoers were surprised on Saturday when they saw Ang Larawan lead star Rachel Alejandro watching the movie with them in a Mall of Asia cinema. Besides from being the executive producer, she also plays Paula in the film.
In accepting one of the awards for the film, Alejandro said she never had an inkling who Nick Joaquin was, until she was introduced to the play “A Portrait of the Artist as Filipino” when she was 21. For 20 years, she and her manager, Girlie Rodis, and other well-meaning artists like Celeste Legaspi, moved heaven and earth to bring into fruition the classical work should make every Filipino proud.
Ang Larawan was received warmly at the 30th Tokyo International Film Festival in October and was one of 10 nominees for the Asian Future Film Prize, which was won by Japan’s “Passage of Life.”
On Monday, the MMFF execom thru its spokesman Noel Ferrer sent a text message to The Manila Times thanking moviegoers for the success of the event at the same time extending the showing of the films.
“We are very happy to announce that we have hit our targets and have set new records with the MMFF 2017 grosses. Thank you very much for your continued support,” said the official statement.
“Acting on the clamor of the moviegoers (especially those who just came back from their Holiday vacation) and with the utmost cooperation of the theater operators, we have extended the showing of the MMFF films in select cinemas. MMFF – Magkaisang Mapaunlad ang Filipino Films. Maraming-maraming salamat po,” it added.
The additional message listed theaters that will continue to honor the MMFF Season Passes – SM, Ayala, Vista and Cinema 2000 (Eastwood, Shangri-La, Festival, Commercenter and Fora Tagaytay).