MANILA – ABS-CBN Films managing director Olivia Lamasan revealed “Hello Stranger” was originally planned as a movie since its conception as a BL project.
Lamasan, however, felt that it needed to be introduced to the Filipino audience first.
“Kailangan palapatin muna sa audience. Allow the characters and the story to grow with the audience and the best way really is to produce an audience,” she told ABS-CBN News during a virtual conference on Wednesday.
“If you do a film, gusto mo siyempre na marami itong ma-service. Gusto mo maraming manood. Gusto mo maraming ma-touch. For something like this, ang feeling lang namin nung una, sige ipa-grow natin sa audience and the best way to do that [is gumawa muna ng series], 'yun ang naging strategy,” she added.
Black Sheep creative head Kriz Gazmen agreed with Lamasan and said they wanted to make sure the audience would be invested on the lead characters first so they would be willing to follow them in any platform in the future.
Based on its trailer, “Hello Stranger: The Movie” is set at a scenic resort, where a writing camp for Xavier (Tony Labrusca) and Mico’s (JC Alcantara) literature class is being held.
Going by the series’ happy ending, where Xavier and Mico professed their love for each other, the camp may well be their opportunity to deepen their relationship.
That’s easier said than done, however, as complications arise. For one, Xavier appears to “friendzone” Mico for still-unknown reasons, and Mico meets a new romantic interest, Simon (Markus Paterson), who stirs jealousy in Xavier.
Teasing what viewers should expect from the movie, Gazmen said: “It picks up exactly where the series left off. But siguro 'yung maganda, from virtual romance, ngayon face to face na sila and magkakasama sila. Our vision was to set the film na in-imagine namin ang post-pandemic world.”
When asked how important it is for them to release this movie as a Valentine offering, Lamasan said: “You know, in our 27 years sa ABS-CBN Films, we’ve always been a part of the Filipinos lives in celebrating Valentine’s Day. This year should be no different. For this year, ang hinahanda naman namin ay ang 'Hello Stranger' na gawa ng Black Sheep para sa lahat.”
“When you watch it, hindi lang siya para sa BL community. It cuts across kasi ako material pa lang, series pa lang, it’s for everybody. Nung pinapanood ko siya, sigaw ako ng sigaw, kilig na kilig ako. It’s been a long time na nakilig ako ng ganun. Sabi ko ang tagal na nung naramdaman ko iyan. Na-miss ko pala ang kilig na ganun. Na-miss ko ang kilig na naramdaman ko sa John Lloyd-Sarah. It’s that kind.”
Do they also have high expectations from this movie given that it won’t have a theatrical release?
“Siyempre business is business. When you talk about business, you talk about money, you talk about sales, you talk about expecting to earn. Hindi naman natin puwede i-deny. But that is not the thing that rules us. That is not the reason why we are doing what we are doing. It’s really to service our audience,” said Lamasan.
“Kasi ang paniniwala namin, kapag sinervice mo ang audience mo, if you are able to touch their hearts, if you are able to give them what they need or what they need, money will come. So yes we are hoping and praying that a lot of people will follow, get entertained, fall in love with this film. We’ll see the magic that we saw in this movie and through that kikita kami or at least maka-break even kami. Mabalik sa amin 'yung cost sa paggawa ng pelikulang ito,” she added.
“Hello, Stranger: The Movie” was directed by Dwein Baltazer, who helmed the acclaimed “Oda sa Wala” in 2018, and another Labrusca starrer “I Am U” in 2020. Petersen Vargas, who directed the series, returned as a producer.
The film will be available to stream starting February 12 on KTX.ph, iWantTFC, TFC IPTV, Cignal PPV, and Sky PPV.