Tuesday, September 06, 2005

The Horror!

Last week, the lesbian vampire flick Eternal opened surreptitiously in one U.S. theater, taking in a measly US$4,100 despite a rather titillating trailer. I guess the horror that befell New Orleans proved to be a bigger draw for U.S. currency. On the other end of the spectrum, the gay slasher flick Hellbent will see release on the 16th this month, hoping to scare up some receipts before the big Hollywood frightfests, whatever those may be, hog the Halloween season.

Here at home, about the only Filipino film that's been making its presence felt is Star Cinema's Dubai, complete with a "world premiere" tag at the end of its trailer. If this film succeeds, following the footsteps of Milan, who knows what'll come next? Hongkong? Taiwan? Brunei? (This reminds me of that time back when television had such monumental soap hits as Boracay, Cebu, and Davao.) But overall, the movie industry's lifeline has been reduced to a cat's whisker, and "indie" is slowly becoming the way to go.

I missed the run of Ellen Ongkiko-Marfil's Mga Pusang Gala (Stray Cats), which I heard got good reviews. While local producers could bank on huge savings by going digital, they still have the huge taxes to deal with, and I won't be surprised if Mga Pusang Gala didn't earn enough. Most local films have been bombing big time, and the top stars have been migrating to television or politics where the exposure and pay are arguably higher.

The threat of decreasing box office returns is also being felt in the US, and Hollywood is under pressure. I read an article in the New York Times that suggested well-known culprits--the explosion of alternative entertainment, the affordability of the home theater, and the scramble for fresh material. Another article also pointed the finger at the studios themselves, which release the home video of a film mere months after its theater debut, and giving audiences an excuse not to flock to the big screens.

One Hollywood producer suggested that the industry should rethink the viability of the age-old business model, to adapt to the changing times rather than fight it. This should have been the course of action of the Philippine industry a decade ago when the chimes of doom started ringing. I don't know of any local producer who does 'test screenings,' or some other kind of market research to get the pulse of the casual moviegoer. If producers see moviemaking as a business, the current situation dictates that they should start doing their homework. Find out what the people want--the whole statistical shebang--instead of using history and assumption.

Or else, Filipino films will be likened to the living dead, shambling into theaters only during December filmfests.


Saint Eroica said...

abangan mo ito : sueyworx production... :)

Carver said...

your sister's? :-)

Saint Eroica said...

sister mado and i and 4 other great people... :)

Carver said...

Gawsh! Saint Erica, movie producer! :-)

slim whale said...

inanities still get screened even during the december filmfest. and, unfortunately, people still lap them up. years of seeing trash must've warped the taste of the viewing masses.

Carver said...

Hello, slim whale. Thanks for posting. :-)

danasaur said...

indi is so the way to go on film.


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