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Twists of fate

Show biz producers hope and pray that their next big project will turn out to be a blockbuster that will make them rich and famous beyond their wildest and most covetous dreams.

But, such great successes—and their corollary failures—are twists of fate that nobody can logically expect or predict, because viewers’ tastes are constantly, frustratingly in a constant state of flux.

That’s why a relatively new find’s “discovery” vehicle is a “monster” hit—but, his follow-up project is a horrible bummer.

Even “bankable” stars who are paid millions because they’re such “reliable” moneymakers can flop, making their new starrers’ financiers gnash their teeth and rue the day when they paid all those additional millions for their promised “box-office insurance”—that the overpaid stars have failed to deliver!

In light of all this expensive uncertainty, it’s a wonderment how the biz’s twists of fate sometimes work in the industry’s long-term favor.

Only Filipino films

The first such positive twist happened in the ’70s, when movie industry leaders and the city of Manila thought of putting up the annual Manila Film Festival, during which only Filipino films could be shown in the city’s movie houses.

At the time, most theaters showed only Hollywood flicks, because our “colonized” viewers preferred them over our homegrown products.

Despite a lot of opposition from fans of Hollywood films, the Manila Film Festival pushed through, and local producers took advantage of the golden opportunity for them to show their best works.

What resulted was a virtual epiphany of surprise and delight, as many people who had scorned Filipino films because they were “cheap, raw and technically inferior” suddenly saw for themselves how wrong they had been!

‘Small and beautiful’

Some movies screened in the first Manila Film Festival delighted heretofore cynical viewers so much that, in the coming years, more theaters welcomed local films with open arms, because they were making as much money as the “imported” stuff.

And the time came when they became even more popular and profitable—all because a “small but beautiful” film festival had dared to prove that our movies were productions to be proud of, not embarrassed about.

Which is why we’ve been so gungho about saving the now-commercialized Metro Manila Film Festival from itself—and the fight continues.

Fall from grace

Another major twist of fate in local films was the fall from grace, over a decade ago, of the once-dominant Filipino action films, with its many overpaid and spoiled superstars who had gotten lazy and were producing lazy and knee-jerk movies.

In retaliation, action film fans transferred their allegiance to the more exciting action blockbusters from the States—and the once high-flying Filipino action film died on the vine.

But, even that negative and tragic turn of events has had a beneficial effect on the local movie industry, because it has taught our producers and stars a bitter lesson—to never, ever again take Filipino fans’ loyalty for granted!

So, local action films are now trying hard to recover—and regain the viewing public’s trust and patronage—a bitter lesson very painfully and even traumatically learned.

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