Metro Manila Film Festival

Lessons from MMFF’s big winner ‘Rewind’: ‘Story is king, good word of mouth’

Isagani de Castro Jr.

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Lessons from MMFF’s big winner ‘Rewind’: ‘Story is king, good word of mouth’

REWIND. Husband-and-wife team Dingdong Dantes and Marian Rivera reunite in top-grossing comeback film Rewind.

Marian Rivera's Facebook

Metro Manila Film Festival 2023 box office winner 'Rewind' mimics the success of the Philippines' highest grossing indie movie, Kita Kita, in 2017

The Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF), the Philippines’ biggest film fest, is set to announce this week its record-breaking box office. As of January 14, Sunday, the festival’s gross earnings had climbed to P1.2 billion from P1.069 billion in January 7 or a week before the one-week extension of the MMFF, topping the 2018 MMFF record.

If last year’s edition is any indication, organizers of the MMFF will likely just announce the top four highest in “alphabetical order” to avoid favoring one over another. Last year, the top 4 films were: Mikhail Red’s psychological thriller Deleter starring Nadine Lustre, drama film Family Matters starring Noel Trinidad and Liza Lorena, Coco Martin and Jodi Sta. Maria’s rom-com Labyu with an Accent, and Vice Ganda’s comedy film Partners in Crime with sexy star Ivana Alawi.

Deleter, produced by Viva Films, dominated the 2022 MMFF Gabi ng Parangal, winning a total of seven awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, and the Best Actress award for Nadine Lustre. In the 2023 MMFF Gabi ng Parangal, GMA Pictures and GMA Current Affairs’ Firefly won Best Picture and Best Screenplay while Pepe Diokno’s historical film GomBurZa produced by Jesuit Communications and two others, took home seven awards.

[Newspoint] A corrective course in history

[Newspoint] A corrective course in history

But it’s clear from how the three-week festival went that the biggest winner is the tearjerker film Rewind, produced by ABS-CBN’s Star Cinema, Dingdong Dantes’ Agostodos Pictures, and Tony Tuviera’s APT Entertainment. 

“Of late, movies like Deleter [in MMFF 2022], GomBurZa, and Firefly [in MMFF 2023] gained more viewers after the Gabi ng Parangal [Awards Night]. But the Marian Rivera and Dingdong Dantes movie Rewind would go on earning more hundreds of millions because of good word of mouth,” wrote MMFF spokesperson Noel Ferrer, in his blog on posted on his Instagram last Thursday.

The lines in cinemas were often the longest for the comeback reunion movie of Kapuso stars Marian Rivera and Dingdong Dantes, forcing cinema owners to add screen times for Rewind to accommodate demand. Among the 10 films, its official trailers (excluding reposts) have the highest views with 9.8 million on Facebook and 1.9 million on YouTube.

Lessons from MMFF’s big winner ‘Rewind’: ‘Story is king, good word of mouth’

Rewind has reportedly raked in more than half of the MMFF 2023 box office. Kapamilya Kingdom, a blog that reports extensively on ABS-CBN and Kapamilya celebrities, claimed that the movie made P600 million as of January 7. ABS-CBN refuses to comment on this figure, preferring instead to let the MMFF organizers disclose ticket sales. Whether the MMFF organizers will do this for each movie remains to be seen.

The movie’s success is great news to start 2024, both for ABS-CBN and its creditors since the Lopez-led media firm continues to bleed financially (P3.2 billion net loss as of third quarter of 2023). ABS-CBN pivoted into becoming a content provider to various broadcast channels and streaming platforms after losing its franchise in 2020, no thanks to the Duterte administration. 

ABS-CBN president and CEO Carlo Katigbak has said on several occasions that the company is now focused on its core strength, which is “in storytelling.” 

But as with most successful films, the problem of piracy comes up. It’s the biggest bane of the movie industry.

Star Cinema, with co-producers Agostodos Pictures, and APT Entertainment, thus issued a joint statement last Thursday warning film pirates that they could face nine years in prison and a P1.5-million penalty if caught.

“Our team is constantly monitoring and taking down illegal copies and downloads of our film,” they said, adding that they “are in the process of pursuing legal action against people who have been selling, posting, and sharing the film.”  

A good story and word of mouth were also the key reasons for the success of the romance drama Kita Kita, starring Alessandra de Rossi and Empoy Marquez. The movie earned over P300 million in 2017 and is still the Philippines’ highest grossing indie movie.

MMFF 2023 organizers said a strong marketing campaign, an industry-wide effort, and better quality films were the key factors for the success of the 49th edition of the festival. With cinema ticket prices no longer affordable to the Filipino masses, the new cinema audience wants movies that are worth the price. 

“Content is of primary importance. Story is king. They drive the audience to cinemas and back; not just the stars and popular celebrities,” wrote MMFF’s Ferrer. 

Valuable food for thought for the Philippine movie industry, as millions around the world binge on K-dramas. – Rappler.com

Rappler Talk Entertainment: Marian Rivera and Dingdong Dantes on MMFF film ‘Rewind’

Rappler Talk Entertainment: Marian Rivera and Dingdong Dantes on MMFF film ‘Rewind’

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Isagani de Castro Jr.

Before he joined Rappler as senior desk editor, Isagani de Castro Jr. was longest-serving editor in chief of ABS-CBN News online. He had reported for the investigative magazine Newsbreak, Asahi Shimbun Manila, and Business Day. He has written chapters for books on politics, international relations, and civil society.