The 2018 Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival, also known as BiFan, in Bucheon City, South Korea got in touch to assign me to write again the domestic film industry in the Philippines including the Top 3 box-office hits in 2017 in their book “Made in Asia,” a program meant for all Asian filmmakers and the region’s market trends.
I immediately researched on the top grossers in the nationwide showing of Filipino films last year.
Albeit the lack of independent agency—state-run or private—which monitors, analyzes and releases box-office results of local films we had to tap sources like production outfits such as Star Cinema or Spring Films to get, at least, financial reports from them. Or we logged on to Box-Office Mojo, a website which regularly reports earnings of movies, foreign or home. Wikipedia is also one source of information. Interviews are also helpful.
When we went to Wikipedia ESEAP Conference page, the first top three in home sales were Star Cinema’s “Gandarrapiddo: The Revenger Squad” with a gross of P571M followed by Spring Films’ “Kita Kita” with P320M and Star Cinema’s “My Ex and Whys” with P300M. But there were conflicting figures in the results of each film’s box-office receipts when I referred to other sources which of course depend on many factors.
Since the producer of the first and third slots was Malou Santos of Star Cinema and I had her last year as our respondent, I decided to look for the producers of “Kita Kita.” I knew they were Piolo Pascual and lady director Bb. Joyce Bernal and they couldn’t be located at once and my deadline was nearing. I asked ABS-CBN Entertainment Bureau Chief Mario V. Dumaual if he knew anyone connected with “Kita Kita” and he easily dropped the name of Erickson Raymundo as a producer as well. I asked for Erickson’s number and Mario obliged instantly.
Raymundo said he would ask Piolo and Joyce about my request. In no time at all, Erickson got back and informed me that Piolo wanted to be interviewed instead so I said okay.
The interview was set at ABS-CBN early morning of Sunday. Pascual would be at the studio at 10:30 and could accommodate me before he would do “ASAP.” Good timing.
After a series of protocol inside ABS-CBN, it was a pleasant encounter with PJ, Piolo’s pet name, as he smilingly exclaimed “kilala kita (I know you)” when I opened the dressing room where he was assigned. We hugged each other. Luis Manzano smiled at me as well because he knew me from her mom’s TV show “VIP” in Channel 13 years back and we always have personal encounters elsewhere. Luis, Piolo’s roommate, was sitting on the make-up chair being made up by Peps Silvestre, one of the show’s official stylists.
Piolo was so accommodating not only as an actor as he was an image of an enterprising producer. “There’s no exact formula as to what a box-office film will suffice,” said Piolo who was very candid in his pronouncements.
From the time “Kita Kita” was a surprise hit, Pascual was always inspired not only as an actor but also as an investor. “International film festivals are venues very good for marketing,” he quipped.
He had just returned from Berlin, Germany to attend the 2018 Berlinale or the Berlin International Film Festival where his latest film, “Panahon ng Halimaw (Season of the Devil),” a non-musical musical project directed by internationally renowned filmmaker Lav Diaz.
According to Piolo, the film was well-received in the fest’s competition although it didn’t win any award but the team got to interact with international industry practitioners.
She was with Shaina Magdayao who was romantically linked with him in the past. No love the second time around? “It was a friendly adventure. Of course, Shaina and I are still friends,” the controversial actor declared.