MANILA — Acclaimed director and film producer Erik Matti believes the local film industry is in a “dire situation” amid the lackluster performance of recent releases at the box office.
Matti, co-founder of film outfit Reality Entertainment, referred to the string of flops as “alarming” in a Facebook post on Thursday.
He wrote: “Someone should do something about it. Government should intervene. This is not a slow death anymore. We are on life support and we need resuscitation. No more pointing fingers. I think we’re beyond that at this point. This is a plea for help.
“The film industry is at its busiest the past three years but no one gets to see the movies we make except for the sporadic mega hits. Hundreds of movies are being made now but no one is really doing good business including the big studios. What happened to our local audience?”
The “BuyBust” director pointed out that in the past three weeks, “several local movies were screened, including one of ours, and it didn’t make good business despite all the marketing fanfare.”
Among the local releases in the past month include the young adult romance “Sakaling Maging Tayo,” the dramedy sequel “Born Beautiful,” and the comedy flick “Tol.”
“Tol” was produced by Matti’s Reality Entertainment.
Matti also mentioned the latest offerings of Regal Entertainment and Viva Films which, he said, were not “received well at the box office despite all the marketing and promising stories.”
This week, Regal Entertainment and Viva Films each released a romance movie — “Elise” and “Hanggang Kailan,” respectively. Neither film company has released ticket tallies.
“Even MMFF no matter how much they claim with pride that it was a hit, it wasn’t. It didn’t make as much money as the previous years. And instead of looking at the problem head on of the dwindling audience they just chose to deny it,” Matti added.
The 2018 Metro Manila Film Festival, organizers have said, was the most successful iteration of the annual event, having totaled P1.06 billion — a slight increase from the previous best of P1.05 billion in 2015.
“Is it the online platforms killing us? Is it support of cinemas? Is it Hollywood? Is it bad marketing? Is it esoteric, irrelevant, tired or uninteresting stories? Is it traffic? Is it downloads? Is it poverty? Has our audience outgrown our films? I really don’t know at this point,” Matti wrote.
The questions are pressing for Matti not only as a director, but as a producer with at least eight movies, under the Reality Entertainment banner, in various stages of production scheduled for a 2019 release.
“All I know is, we cannot go on making movies where no one sees them,” Matti said. “We cannot blindly just trudge along busily working on our films without thinking about whether all this passion is really worth it. We cannot keep on spending millions for movies that no one gets to see. This is alarming. Someone somewhere somehow should do something about this.”
While film festivals continue to be a venue to cultivate and showcase talents in local filmmaking, Matti delineated between the issues of quality and commercial success.
In 2018, eight major film festivals were held in partnership with the Film Development Council of the Philippines, each with its slate of original entries. Those are aside from the annual MMFF. On top of these large-scale festivals, 19 were held in regional territories, according to FDCP data.
“This industry nurtures its artists with our local filmfests,” Matti said. “We look after our filmworkers with so many films being produced. We strengthen ties on our international filmfest connections. We revel on the little things we accomplish and splash it on big bold letters in the headlines. But are we really doing something for the film industry where it matters most? Are we really getting our films to the audience it was actually made for? Or are we just bringing them to the small audience we embarrassingly deserve?”