'Ang Larawan' dropped in over 20 theaters in Metro Manila

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 27) — The play-turned-film and musical "Ang Larawan" has been dropped from almost 30 theaters nationwide, a mere two days into the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF).

At least seventeen malls stopped carrying the picture a day after the MMFF launch on Christmas Day. Nine more cinemas dropped it on Wednesday.

Three of the 26 malls that dropped the movie are in Cebu, two in Cavite, and the rest across Metro Manila.

This comes on top of reportedly being left out of several provincial theaters.

In a Facebook post on Christmas Eve, the team behind the film called on theaters in provinces to #ShowLarawan. It named Albay, Baguio, Bataan, Batangas, Bulacan, Camarines Sur, Capiz, Ilocos, Leyte, Mindoro, Negros, Pangasinan, Quezon, Tarlac, Zambales, and Zamboanga.

Despite rave reviews, the on-screen adaptation of national artist Nick Joaquin's "A Portrait of the Artist as Filipino" is struggling in the box office, and may be left out of more cinemas.

It faces stiff competition from expected box office hits like "Gandarrapiddo: The Revenger Squad," starring Vice Ganda, and "Meant to Beh" headlining Vic Sotto.

MMFF spokesperson Noel Ferrer said on Tuesday that theaters were assigned movies to run based on a lottery, but they could pick which ones stay after the first day.

"Merong bunutan talaga ng theaters... Pero after the first day or the next few days, [doon] na," said Ferrer.

(Translation: There is a lottery among the theaters... But after the first day or next few days, that's when [they pick].)

Ferrer added that Trinoma agreed to run "Ang Larawan" again on New Year's Day.

Other netizens, however, noted that some cinema-owners allotted two theaters or more to expected box office hits.

"Mga Mumunting Lihim" director Joey Reyes called on theater owners to "please give ['Ang Larawan'] a chance."

Ferrer also advised moviegoers to watch the films they had been looking forward early to help these movies stay in cinemas.

"Kaya nga parang sinasabi natin, lahat ng nagrereklamo na nasan yung magagandang Filipino films [To those who complain about the absence of good Filipino films] — please watch [them]," he said.

The musical, described as a "prestige project" by critic Tristan Zinampan, carries the weight of two national artists: Nick Joaquin who wrote the original plot and Rolando Tinio who translated it to Filipino. The movie was scored by renowned musician Ryan Cayabyab and directed by Loy Arcenas. It also stars big names from the film and theater industries, including Joanna Ampil, Rachel Alejandro, Paulo Avelino, and Nonie Buencamino among others.

Set in pre-World War II Intramuros, the story follows sisters Paula and Candida Marasigan, who are pressed by financial problems to sell a painting by their father.

Where to watch 'Ang Larawan'

In an update from the film's official Facebook page, "Ang Larawan" is still showing in the following cinemas:

Cinema '76, a small theater in San Juan, has also picked up the film. For a lesser ticket price, the micro-cinema will run "Ang Larawan" until January 4.

#AngLarawanPagbigyan

"Ang Larawan" trended on Wednesday as some movie-goers took to social media to spread the word about the film.

: Sa lahat ng MMFF entries, Ang Larawan ang dapat i-hype.

> A Portrait of the Artist as Filipino written by National Artist Nick Joaquin

> Translated by National Artist Bienvenido Lumbera

> Libretto by National Artist Rolando Tinio

> Music by Ryan Cayabyab.

— HAMON REVILLA (@NotdahelMarcel) December 25, 2017

The MMFF runs until January 7.