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Fearless Forecast: 2021 Filipino entertainment

I’m no psychic but I can lay claim I can also predict—by my simple analysis—of what’s in store for the Philippine entertainment industry in 2021.

Although there are a lot of good things happening around like the reactivation of many productions—television, film, music, stage, online—no matter the adherence to health protocols like wearing masks, face shields, maintaining physical or social distancing and applying sanitizers or disinfectants to mitigate the spread of the deadly COVID-19 and the new strains and variants this virus has mutated, the prevalence of fear among filmgoers to watch movies in cinemas has been wreaking havoc in the local movie industry. That would still be a major concern in the coming days or months or even years (hope not) even if vaccines would be available. How many among Filipinos could the vaccine be inoculated if there’s only a limited supply of them and what kind of system could be applied so that priority recipients or any Juan or Juan wannabe could avail of?

The dismal box-office results of the 2020 Metro Manila Film Festival which ran for almost three weeks only made a small millions compared to the 2019 MMFF receipts at the tills which was almost a billion and the more generative income of the 2018 MMFF which had achieved more than a billion-peso mark in the same screening days. The 46th MMFF, reportedly, took home P11M on the third day of showing. Granting that in the more or less three week-screening, it got a total gross of P200-300M, it was still way below the conservative estimate or realistic expectation of people in the know.           

To begin with, the online screening is still a new medium for a majority of moviegoers especially the adults who don’t necessarily subscribe to digital screening. But it can be the future but it would still take time to unlearn a lot of traditional things in movie watching. Many film producers and investors are still apprehensive of the ROI if streaming live would be the venue of movies. The box-office returns of the 2020 MMFF were something to ponder on.

To corroborate this assumption, was Viva Entertainment wise enough to withdraw the “Praybeyt Benjamin” franchise which Vice Ganda would again star in last year’s race? But what if the pandemic stretches beyond 2021 and the company would still hold the shooting or the showing of the Vice project, what of it? Well and good if the factory hasn’t shell out a single centavo to roll out its production which saved them from loss.

There are upsides to these messes, though. 2020 MMFF has given the public a new sensation in the person of upstart Charlie Dizon who portrayed the fan gaga over her idol (played by Paulo Avelino) who turned out to be a hero of a monster.

Meanwhile, TV dramas have jumpstarted their tapings with strict compliances to health standards. GMA Network has resumed most of its deferred teleseryes and still came up with new titles. Other networks have also fielded in their drama works. Even if ABS-CBN was denied to a renewed franchise, it has been going on in its multiple productions.

It’s because small screen watching has generally no restrictions especially if done in the four walls of the home. Still, strictly speaking, health guidance should still be in place but knowing the proclivities of Filipinos on filial bonding, protocols can still be taken aside.

Music recording has also been open after the lifting of lockdowns but there are innovative and creative musicians who would record their pieces online and distribute them naturally in cyber as well which could be heard and seen on digital gadgets.

Meanwhile, many stage productions are still on hold. The Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) for one, according to its Chairman of the Board Margie Moran, isn’t sure of opening its public appearances in 2021. What these theater (including musicals, concerts, plays etc.) productions could do is to still go online which was done by Tanghalang Pilipino (TP) in Nora Aunor’s “Lola Doc” and readings while acting before Zoom cameras for the excerpts of “VirginLabfest” supposed entries.

The pandemic has been ruining the cultural activities of the land and artists should still brace themselves up for more challenging scenes—real and reel—ahead.

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