Updated 16:25 PM PHT Wed, December 28, 2016
Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Low audience turnout in the first two days of the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) have prompted a number of theaters to drop some films from their roster.
MMFF official Liza Diño-Seguerra confirms this development.
Rules of the festival require cinemas to screen movies in the first two days of the festival, she said.
But on the third day, cinema owners can decide which among the MMFF entries they will show for the next eight days, Diño-Seguerra added.
She says it has nothing to do with the quality of the films included in the festival.
"Hindi pa handa ang audience natin para sa ganitong klaseng pelikula...nandito pa rin tayo sa proseso ng paghihikayat," she says.
[Translation: Audiences are still not used to these kinds of films...we are still trying to win them over.]
There's a higher retention in theaters for movies that can fill up at least 10 percent of the cinema, she adds.
Producer Shandii Bacolod of the movie Oro says, from 47 cinemas nationwide they are down to only 35 on the third day.
"'Yung rules kasi na kapag mahina ka, matatanggal ka. Yun ang kalaban, that's evil... Lalaban kami hanggang sa huling sinehan na merong puwedeng manood ng Oro," Bacolod says.
[Translation: The rules state that if your movie has a poor showing, it will be taken out. That's what we have to fight against; that's evil... We will fight for people to see Oro.]
But Bacolod says more than the ticket sales, they value more the opportunity to deliver the movie's message of justice to a wider audience.
One of the eight filmfest entries bucking the low sales trend is Saving Sally. Its writer Charlene Sawit-Esguerra initially feared their live-action animated movie would have a hard time sustaining audience interest.
She says, only a few cinemas outside Metro Manila initially showed their movie.
But things turned around with the help of fans and other friends from the movie industry.
"Parang bayanihan iyong nangyayari [It feels like people banded together]...they barrage the theaters with messages and calls, demanding to see our movie. We lost a lot of theaters but we gained back even more," Sawit-Esguerra said
From only 56 theaters on opening day, Saving Sally is now showing in 62 theaters nationwide.
MMFF ppokesman Noel Ferrer believes the festival this year is a big success.
"During the first day of the festival, some of the indie films have already recouped their expenses in their production," Ferrer said.
If public demand is high, Ferrer says cinemas may retain some movies after the awards night on December 29th.
The Metro Manila Film Festival, now on its 41st year, runs until January 7.
Visit the Facebook page of the Metro Manila Film Festival to check out updates and the films' trailers.