Americas Entertainment

Metro Manila film festival 2023 surpasses P700-M ticket revenues, headed to Hollywood on January 29

By Jennifer T. Santos

The Metro Manila Film Festival is back with a vengeance on its 49th edition.

This as the festival’s combined gross ticket sales crossed P700 million and still counting with still more screening days before it concludes.

The early success of the annual filmfest started by then Manila Mayor Antonio J. Villegas as the Manila Film Festival indicated that not all is lost in the local movie industry after what observers claim as a dismal 2023 for most Philippine movies.

The festival’s actors and actresses as well as producers will fly next to Hollywood, Los Angeles, California for the first ever United States version of the Metro filmfest, officially dubbed the inaugural Manila International Film Festival (MIFF), as the MMFF marks its 50th year this 2024. The US festival version is set to start on January 29 and ends on February 2.

The 10 Metro Manila Film Festival entries  will be the centerpiece of MIFF at the Directors Guild of America at 7920 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90046.

The MIFF, the first overseas edition of the MMFF, was actually first launched on November 2, also at the Directors Guild of America in Los Angeles with a screening of three films chosen from the eight entries in the inaugural summer edition of MMFF (Metro Manila Summer Film Festival – MMSFF) held last April in the Philippines.

It was announced that the MIFF is spearheaded by founders Omen Ortiz, chairman; Ebradu Udarbe, president; Lisa Lew, executive producer; Ruben Nepales and Janet Nepales, media relations consultants; and Celia Abaya Dy, ticketing manager. Also on the MIFF team are Leo Dela Cruz, chief financial officer; Erickson Ilog, chief operations officer; Ron Ramores, chief marketing officer; and Cindy Sison, consultant.

The development, however, is marred by complaints of pricey movie tickets which some say now range from P520 to P800, compared to old prices of P300 to P400.

Lawyer Romando Artes, Chairman of the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and the MMFF, said that the festival reached its box office earnings target this year of P700 million as early as last January 2, adding the ticket sales may surpass the target by several more millions of pesos.

“It’s [box office] much higher than the P501 million in 2022,” said Artes.

In 2018, the MMFF hit a record box office gross of P1.061 billion.

At press time, published reports in Manila state that “Rewind,” the comeback romance tearjerker of real-life couple Dingdong Dantes and Marian Rivera, also known as DongYan, was unofficially leading the pack of nine other movies in box office receipts followed by horror film“Mallari” with Piolo Pascual and second best picture “Gomburza.” “Firefly,” the best picture this year, is also making good in the box office.  Other films in the festival are the Vilma Santos-Christopher de Leon starrer When I Met You in Tokyo, Sharon Cuneta and Alden Richards’ Family of Two, Matteo Guidicelli’s Penduko, Becky and Badette, Kampon and Broken Heart’s Trip. 

Alessandra de Rossi, the lead actress of “Firefly,” the festival’s best picture, noted that their movie was being shown in cinemas with ticket prices ranging from P520 to P800 — much higher than regular ticket prices of P300 to P400.

Pepe Diokno, who earned Best Director honors for “Gomburza,” said: “Noong nag-simula ang sine, it was affordable entertainment for Juan dela Cruz. I think hindi natin masasabi yan ngayon. But I’m not sure if I can still say it now.”

“I can understand kung Hollywood films mataas ang presyo, pero for Filipino films sana para mas maraming Pilipino ang manood, sana ibaba ang presyo ng ticket,” he added.

Actor-lawmakers Senator Jose Jinggoy Estrada and Quezon City 1st District Representative Arjo Atayde have called for lower ticket prices for the festival.


GMA Network’s fantasy film “Firefly” emerged as the Best Picture even as the historical movie “Gomburza” walked away with the most awards during the 49th Metro Manila Film Festival Gabi ng Parangal held at New Frontier in Araneta Center, Cubao, Quezon City.

“Firefly,” starring Alessandra de Rossi and child actor Euwenn Mikaell, earned Best Picture honors aside from Best Screenplay for Angeli Atienza and Best Child Performer for Mikaell.

In his acceptance speech, director Zig Dulay credited the success of “Firefly” to their entire team.

“Gomburza” was the 2nd Best Picture and also won the Best Actor for Cedrick Juan and Best Director for Pepe Diokno. They also bagged the award for Best Cinematography, Best Production Design, Best Sound, and the Gatpuno Antonio J. Villegas Cultural Award.

“Maraming-maraming salamat po sa inyong lahat dahil sumugal po kayo sa akin sa katulad ko na nagmamahal sa pag-arte, maraming-maraming salamat teatro,” said Juan upon receiving his trophy.

“Mallari,” starring Piolo Pascual, was the 3rd Best Picture and also took home the Best Supporting Actor award for JC Santos.

“When I Met You In Tokyo” was the 4th Best Picture while Vilma Santos earned Best Actress honors for her role in the film.

Santos was  emotional when she received her award, which she said was unexpected, ABS-CN reported.

“Ang talagang adbokasiya po namin ay maging successful ang Metro Manila Film Festival, and at the same time, mabalik po sana ‘yung mga tao sa sine. ‘Yun po ang aming inasam-asam,” she said.

“With these ten movies that are showing right now, bumabalik po ang mga tao sa sine. Sana ho, magtuloy-tuloy kasi ito ho ang kailangan ng atin pong industriya, na ma-appreciate po nila ulit ang panonood sa sine. I think it’s happening now, sana po ay tuloy-tuloy,” she added.

Santos went on to dedicate the award to her fellow nominees, including Sharon Cuneta and Marian Rivera.

Here are the winners of the 49th Metro Manila Film Festival.

  • Best Picture: “Firefly”
  • 2nd Best Picture: “Gomburza”
  • 3rd Best Picture: “Mallari”
  • 4th Best Picture: “When I Met You In Tokyo”
  • Best Actor: Cedrick Juan for “Gomburza”
  • Best Actress: Vilma Santos for “When I Met You In Tokyo”
  • Best Supporting Actor: JC Santos for “Mallari”
  • Best Supporting Actress: Miles Ocampo for “Family Of Two”
  • Best Director: Pepe Diokno for “Gomburza”
  • Best Screenplay: Angeli Atienza for “Firefly”
  • Best Child Performer: Euwann Mikaell of “Firefly”
  • Best Cinematography: Carlo Canlas Mendoza for “Gomburza”
  • Best Editing: Benjamin Tolentino for “(K)ampon”
  • Best Production Design: Ericson Navarro for “Gomburza”
  • Best Original Theme Song: “Finggah Lickin” from “Becky and Badette”
  • Best Visual Effects: Gaspar Mangarin for “Mallari”
  • Best Musical Score: Von de Guzman for “Mallari”
  • Best Sound: Melvin Q. Rivera and Louie Boy Bauson for “Gomburza”
  • Gender Sensitivity Award: “Becky and Badette”
  • FPJ Memorial Award for Excellence: “When I Met You In Tokyo”
  • Gatpuno Antonio J. Villegas Cultural Award: “Gomburza”
  • Marichu Vera Perez Maceda Memorial Award: Mother Lily Yu Monteverde
  • Best Float: “When I Met You In Tokyo”