Philippine cinema

Philippine Cinema on Decline: An Economic Standpoint

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Subsequent news regarding the Philippine cinema industry’s decline flocking several of our social media newsfeeds. This started when Erik Matti shared his sentiments about hundreds of movies being made in a year but with very little support from the audiences. His post was supported by resident filmmakers Quark Henares and Mike de Leon.

On his Facebook post, Matti opened up several questions on the reasons as to why the business of the movie industry is withering and how the producers make very little income from them. In the end, he was pleading the industry leaders that they should do something about it.

Last March 2, Matti had a meeting with several movie producers along with Liza Diño-Seguerra of Film Development Council of the Philippines. Although no discussions of the conference have been disclosed to the public yet, the meeting seemed promising to the industry.

Philippine Cinema on Decline: An Economic Standpoint
Released in January, Born Beautiful failed to amass a lot of moviegoers to the cinema

Before I inject my thoughts, I would like to bullet several factors on why the Philippine movie industry is slowly declining, about Matti’s FB post and Fashion Pulis‘ comment section by the readers.

1. Bad Marketing
2. Hollywood
3. Bad Stories / Same-old concepts
4. Poverty
5. Traffic
6. Expensive Tickets
7. Online streaming, e.g. Netflix
8. Mobile games
9. Very high talent fee of the artists

All these and several other factors not listed are legitimate. Depending on the socio-economic status, exposure, and interests of an audience member, they all count. They also influence each other as well.

It’s easy to blame Netflix as it is one of the more apparent reasons for the decline, but since we’re focusing on the Philippine cinema, I’m going to start with the Philippines’ financial state. I’ll talk about Netflix and West Imperialism in another blog post.

Philippine Cinema on Decline: An Economic Standpoint
Billie and Emma, a coming-of-age LGBT story that is coming to cinemas nationwide this month.

Related: The Pop Blog’s Film and TV articles

Most of the comments on Erik Matti’s, Quark Henares’, and the shared Fashion Pulis’ posts reasoned the Philippines’ economic stature overwhelmingly.

In Metro Manila, a movie ticket costs around P220-400, depending on the cinema. That would amount to half, equal, or even much less of a typical employee’s daily income. Compare it to Netflix at less than 550php per month, with unlimited movies and series. Buying popcorn in the cinema is not mandatory, but it’s irresistible especially since the whole movie experience comes with it.

The people in the lower part of the middle class and the lower class would have to be more creative in deciding what to do on date nights. The inflation makes it so that only most of the necessities are given financial priority. Watching movies in the theaters is a luxury and why bother? Free TV is always around with weekly free movies anyway.

Jose Manalo’s first solo film, Boy Tokwa, merges comedy with drama.

Another aspect is the endless traffic in Metro Manila. It’s a legit factor that makes “Netflix and chills” relatable to millennials in the Philippines. With the traffic situation and lack of public vehicles especially during rush hours, not just in Manila but in other main cities like Davao and Cebu, many people would just prefer staying at home during weekends. Hence, food delivery services are becoming ubiquitous.

Aside from that, the swift availability of movies from cinemas to online or TV makes people wait patiently for just a month or even a few weeks. The experience of watching it after its theater run seems not a big deal to them. They also get to save up a lot of bucks for it.

Many Fashion Pulis commenters also opened up about the huge talent fees of several artists. It’s another legit factor, in my opinion. However, I doubt that that would change because the artist’s value based on experience, net worth, and fans are already set by standards. Let’s just hope that some of them (and their management) are willing to compromise for a smaller upfront fee.

Alone/Together is one of the biggest mainstream films to hit theaters this year.

We cannot control the economic situation of our country. What we can only control is our reaction to it and how we budget our money. If people choose to let go of the theatrical experience, then that is their choice. We’re hoping that the recent meeting of FDCP and Philippine movie producers has found a way to address this “luxury” for most people in the Philippines. Yes, it has become a luxury, but let’s not deny that it’s also an “escape” from the harsh realities of life.

Tune in for 2 other blogs I’ll be writing related to West Imperialism / Hollywood and millennials’ lack of interest in films.

Long live the Philippine cinema!

Art by Jim Morada

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3 thoughts on “Philippine Cinema on Decline: An Economic Standpoint

  1. I think there are just so many options nowadays but if people find more compelling reasons to watch in theaters then that would be great!

    Thanks for your thoughts! <3

    1. Sorry late rep! The reason why I would choose Hollywood action films (such as MI-5) over a big-studio romcom (such as Alone/Together) is that Hollywood action films’ effects are better off being watched in theaters. We can just watch romcoms and dramas on our laptops! Haha! I bet many of Hollywood romcoms are also not doing well in theaters nowadays and I guess Hollywood has noticed that way before Erik Matti did.

      It’s just sad that the cost of watching films in theaters takes its toll on our savings. Instead of us wanting to support a lot of films during their theatrical run, we would rather wait for them patiently on free tv, torrents and other media service providers. If given the choice and maybe if they lessen ticket prices, I would still choose to watch even the one-setting romcom in the theaters.

      Anyway, indie Pinoy films deserve our support more than ever but I’m also thankful that avenues such as Iwantv and Iflix make this possible. 😊

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