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Pacman flick suffers film fest knockout

By Bayani San Diego Jr.
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 23:34:00 12/26/2009

Filed Under: Cinema, Pacquiao

SEVEN-TIME world champion Manny Pacquiao may have knocked out 38 of his 55 opponents, but he has failed to bring his billion-peso punch from the boxing ring to the box office.

Pacquiao?s superhero flick ?Wapakman? landed in last place, earning only P750,000 on the first day of the two-week Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF).

According to official box office records released by the MMFF through executive committee member Ric Camaligan, the top slots were a close three-cornered fight among special-effects movies: ?Ang Panday,? ?Ang Darling Kong Aswang? and ?Shake, Rattle & Roll XI.?

?Ang Panday,? a fantasy-action epic top-billed by actor-politician Ramon ?Bong? Revilla Jr., earned P16.9 million nationwide. Second was the Vic Sotto horror-comedy ?Ang Darling Kong Aswang,? with P16.8 million.

In third was the long-running, all-star cast horror trilogy franchise ?Shake? from Regal Entertainment, with P16.2 million.

Although ?Wapakman? is also an action flick laden with special effects, it apparently failed to attract Pacquiao?s hordes of fans who usually troop to moviehouses to watch his fights via satellite, said filmmaker Jose Javier Reyes.

Adored as a boxer

Reyes, the director behind two MMFF top-grossers (?Kasal, Kasali, Kasalo? in 2006 and ?Sakal, Sakali, Saklolo? in 2007), offered a theory on Pacquiao?s lackluster performance in the box office.

?Filipinos adore him as a prizefighter ? as an athlete, but apparently not as an actor, singer ? not even as a politician,? Reyes said.

The filmmaker recalled that Pacquiao lost in his first congressional bid in 2007 when he ran against Rep. Darlene Antonino-Custodio in South Cotabato. He is running again in next May?s elections, this time for the lone congressional seat of Sarangani.

Reyes said Pacquiao?s entry in the MMFF two years ago, ?Anak ng Kumander,? was also a tail-ender at the tills, earning barely P2 million by the end of the festival.

?People will stop their lives to watch him fight in the ring, but it seems they will not go out of their way to watch him goof around in a movie,? Reyes said. ?He is a real-life hero; not a superhero.?

Rumored romance

There is also an opinion running in the entertainment industry that rumors of his romantic fling with ?Wapakman? costar Krista Ranillo didn?t help in promoting what is ostensibly a family movie?in the same way that gossip of an illicit romance with ?Kumander? costar Ara Mina didn?t help their film at the box office.

?There is a disconnect, publicity-wise. That?s possible,? Reyes said. ?But in Pinoy macho society, there?s nothing too scandalous, shocking or salacious about the gossip regarding Manny and Krista, anyway.?

In an earlier interview, Pacquiao said he hoped that the ?intrigue-mongers? would watch his movie with Ranillo.

?What?s the use of the intrigues if our movie doesn?t make money?? he said in Filipino.

From all indications, the controversy didn?t help.

?He is an icon. A legend. He has to know his limits, his parameters,? Reyes said. ?As a media personality, his biggest achievement is that he gave the world his mother, Dionisia, who is such a colorful character.?

Fantasy over drama

Rounding up the box office results of the first day of the MMFF?now on its 35th year?are the romance drama ?I Love You, Goodbye,? P11.7 million; the comedy-drama ?Nobody, Nobody But ? Juan,? P8 million; the Chinese family saga ?Mano Po 6: A Mother?s Love,? P6.9 million; and ?Wapakman,? P750,000.

Reyes said ?the early trend? in the film fest was that drama films, like ?I Love You,? ?Nobody? and ?Mano Po,? were clobbered at the tills by fantasy/special effects flicks like ?Panday,? ?Darling? and ?Shake.?

Although ?Mano Po? was graded A by the Cinema Evaluation Board for its polish and competence, it struggled on its first day.

?That?s only the first round, so to speak,? Reyes said.

?That?s just the first wave of movie attendance. I am praying that moviegoers would have enough money for the second wave of movie-watching ? for the good of the drama films. But then again, retail was in pretty bad shape this Christmas season.?

Another ?war?

Another interesting facet in the box office race is that while GMA Films landed in first place with ?Panday,? rival ABS-CBN?s entry, Star Cinema?s ?I Love You,? was in fourth spot.

?That?s quite a bitter pill to swallow ? in the context of the network war,? Reyes said.

The awards night is scheduled for tomorrow (Monday) and the most commercially successful film often ends up wining Best Picture, according to the fest?s criteria, Camaligan said.

Revilla is happy but hardly surprised by his film?s strong showing.

?Movie watching at Christmas time is always for the entire family,? he said. ?I heard that our film made P250,000 on its first screening hour in SM North Edsa. That?s just with one cinema, with one screening. It?s a record-breaker.?

This was confirmed by Camaligan: ??Panday? earned over P1 million in one day in SM North Edsa. It beat last year?s record.?

800 cinemas

Reyes said that a film fest entry?s box office performance could also be affected by other factors, like the number and accessibility of cinemas each entry would get.

?Producers draw lots in dividing the cinemas,? Reyes said. ?A producer would just have to hope that he or she gets good cinemas ? that are both accessible and first-rate. But the most important factor is still content. Fantasy has consistently proven to be commercial, while serious films simply don?t work.?

Camaligan said the division of cinemas was done ?fairly.?

?Each entry gets 110 cinemas. The 800 cinemas nationwide are divided into seven groups and that?s what the producers divide among themselves, by drawing lots.?

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