There’s a Simple Reason Why Every MMFF Features Vice Ganda and Vic Sotto
The 2018 Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) has ended, and the organizers have announced on their Facebook page that the total gross earnings of the festival's eight films have exceeded Php1 billion.
“We are happy to announce that despite the rains and all the other challenges, MMFF 2018 has hit and exceeded the 1 billion record as of yesterday (January 6),” the post said.
And according to the Philippine Box Office Facebook page, an affiliate of Box Office Mojo that collates movie earnings data for the Philippine market, MMFF has its two most reliable names to thank yet again.
A January 2 update revealed that Fantastica, a fantasy-comedy film starring TV host and MMFF favorite Vice Ganda, led the tally in box office revenues, having already earned over Php350 million in the first week. A tweet from the comedian, whose real name is Jose Marie Viceral, also hinted that his movie had since crossed the Php400-million mark.
Coming in second is Jack Em Popoy: The Puliscredibles, which features actors Coco Martin, Maine Mendoza and MMFF’s other favorite moneymaker: Vic Sotto. The action-thriller-comedy film grossed over Php200 million in its first week.
To put those two figures into perspective, Marvel’s Black Panther earned Php275 million in its first week in Philippine cinemas.
How Movie Gross Earnings Affect the MMFF
Scheduled during the Christmas break and without competiton form Hollywood blockbusters, the box office pull of MMFF movies is nearly certain. Critics of the popularity-based film festival, however, have pointed out its inclination for fantasy-oriented themes and sure-fire stars regardless of quality. High-grossing films were lauded regardless of plot or potential. Sotto and Vice Ganda productions, for example, are popular themes for their mass appeal. The records speak for themselves.
Both movies will add to the two actors’ track records of being the festival’s biggest box office draws. Since his MMFF debut back in 2012 with Sisterakas, all of Viceral’s movies have been the top grossing feature-length film for their respective years’ festivals, and many of them are still among the highest-grossing Philippine movies of all time.
Similarly, movies featuring Sotto took either the second or third spot among the festival’s top grossers, the biggest exception being 2017’s Meant to Beh, which ended at fifth. However, Sotto has a much longer filmography than Viceral, having played the titular role in the 2002 MMFF entry Lastikman and participating in almost every festival since then.
Viceral and Sotto’s presence at the top of the MMFF box office is nothing new, and the MMFF board itself has recognized the two actors’ influence on the annual festival. In a 2016 interview with ABS-CBN, MMFF executive committee member Boots Anson-Roa already predicted that the earnings for that year’s festival would be much lower compared to previous years due to the lack of movies starring Viceral and Sotto.
True enough, earnings for MMFF 2016 amounted to around Php373 million, much lower than the Php1 billion it earned in 2015 and the eventual Php1 billion it would earn the year after, when both Viceral and Sotto-led movies returned to the festival.
Proving the point further is how The Super Parental Guardians, which was intended as the Vice Ganda-led entry to the 2016 MMFF, grossed Php598 million without the festival’s help. Sotto’s MMFF-rejected movie that year, Enteng Kabisote 10 and the Abangers, grossed a much lower but still respectable Php70 million according to some reports.
So if you ever wonder why the MMFF keeps coming back to its usual Vice Ganda and Vic Sotto-led movies, you have their nine-digit box office earnings to thank.