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The MMFF: Box-office Top Grosser or Best Picture?

To me, December isn’t only Christmas time. It’s also time for PinoyWood.

It is that time in the year where for two weeks, you won’t see a single foreign blockbuster movie showing in major Philippine cinemas. Because of the annual Metro Manila Film Festival(MMFF).

Every major theater, not only in Metro Manila but even in Visayas and Mindanao, will be showing movie entries to the MMFF. If there are any Christmas specials from major movie producers like, they will have to wait until January. All theaters are mandated to show only MMFF entries. Unless you’re an IMax or 3-D theater, you can’t show foreign movies. Else, you will incur the wrath of the government and the local movie industry.

MMFF showcases the best that Philippine movies have to offer. Every year, Philippine producers, renowned movie directors, multi-award winning and upcoming actors and actresses work painstakingly to produce the best Philippine movies that they can think of; thus ending the year with a bang!

A number of actors and actresses make regular entries for the MMFF. Vic Sotto and Kris Aquino are regular MMFF participants. Vic Sotto plays Enteng Kabisote, the infamous hero of Engkantasya. Kris Aquino is a dynamic actress who can portray heavy drama, horror, and modern day comedy films. Other notable actors and actresses during MMFF are Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr., Judy Ann Santos, and Ai Ai Delas Alas.

Of course, what would be a film festival if there weren’t any awards? The MMFF has an awards night which recognizes the best performers for their movie entries. The awards of Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director and Best Picture are just some of these awards being given.

But while the MMFF gives out these major awards, there is one other award which most would say is actually more rewarding. I’m referring to the MMFF box office top performer. Whichever entry has the highest box office sales during the duration of the MMFF is the festival’s top grosser, with the entire cast and crew earning bragging rights all throughout the year until the next MMFF.

An MMFF entry that performs well at the box office may not bag any major awards. On the other hand, an MMFF entry that bags major awards may not do well on the box office.

The following are the box office top performers for the past 5 years of the MMFF:






2007       Sakal, Sakali, Saklolo (P123 million, no major awards)






2008       Ang Tanging Ina Ninyong Lahat (P171 million, no major awards)






2009       Ang Panday (P99 million, 7 major awards)






2010       Si Agimat at si Enteng Kabisote (P175 million, 2 awards)






2011         Enteng ng Ina Mo (P237 million, no major awards)

As you can see, it was only in 2009 that the MMFF box office top grosser was also able to win major awards. Ang Panday won Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor and four other awards. Don’t include the 2 awards won by Agimat and Enteng Kabisote in 2010 because those awards were only for Best Visual Effects and Best Make-Up, awards which I have to say are just ok.

So what does this say then? How does a film that is able to entertain thousands of people fail to please a panel of movie critics? Are these people so hard to please?

Contrastingly, how can a film that wins major awards for the excellent performances of its cast and crew stand to earn only a few millions after two weeks of being shown in Philippine theaters? Can’t Filipinos distinguish what is really artistic and what is not?

If that will always be the trend during the MMFF, there are two paths an aspiring entry should choose from – be the box-office top grosser or the Best Picture winner. Which would be more rewarding, more ticket sales or more critical acclaim from movie critics?

Vic Sotto cannot be dramatic. Kris Aquino cannot be asked to hold a sword and cast magic spells. A producer is going to lose more if he tried to make them do those things.

I say this – choose the path that brings out the best in you as an entertainer.  Movies are made first and foremost to entertain. Sure there is the box-office and there is the Best Picture for grabs. But the way I see it, at the end of the day, it will all come down to your ability to entertain.

Because when you bring out your best, the results will always be the best. You will be #1.

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