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Goodbye, Hump Day Movie Releases: The Rundown On The New Opening Day For Theatrical Films

It’s official—beginning July, movies in the Philippines will open on Fridays instead of Wednesdays. 

This change comes after the release of a memorandum circular by the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) that details new guidelines for the theatrical release of movies—both local and foreign—in the country. “It has been a long and arduous journey to get the entire film industry to sit down and work towards a shared vision but goes,” wrote Liza Diño-Seguerra, chairperson of the FDCP, in a Facebook post dated June 25, 2019. 

“This is the culmination of FDCP’s efforts to strengthen our industry practices and level the playing field for all our stakeholders—from film producers, to distributors, to our exhibitors, and even the audience—through a transparent and fair set of guidelines that addresses the gaps that have long plagued our industry when it comes to screening films in commercial theatres,” she added. 


Here’s the rundown on the FDCP’s latest circular, and what it means for the film industry in the country. 

1. Movies will be released on Fridays, instead of the traditional Wednesday opening day. This shift is expected to “accommodate more potential moviegoers during the weekend,” the FDCP said in a statement. Currently, movies with low opening day box office numbers are pulled out of the cinemas before moviegoers are even given a chance to come see them when the weekend rolls in. 


2. Every film booked for theatrical release will have, at minimum, a seven-day run, and an assigned theatre is guaranteed for the first three days. This means that from Friday to Sunday, a film will have a cinema to play in, no exceptions. Well, except of course for what the FDCP considers to be extreme cases—“zero to less than the expected turnout of audience during screening.” 


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3. A film is guaranteed “full screens” during the first three days of its run. This is opposed to “screen splitting,” where two films share the same theatre and alternate showings throughout the day. Now you can rest easy knowing that you’re getting a movie like, say, Greta all day, rather than twice in the morning. The morning! Who watches movies in the morning? 


4. Filipino films and foreign films will be exhibited equally every playdate, expect during film festivals in support of the local film industry. That means unless it’s the MMFF, there will be an equal ratio of local to foreign films out in cinemas. Missed a good Filipino film everyone’s been raving about, but all you can find now are screenings of the same Hollywood movie five times over? You won’t have to worry ever again. 


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5. The length of previews and upcoming attractions will be added to the published runtime of each film. So, if this happened when Avengers: Endgame was released, it would’ve been 3 hours and 15 minutes long. 


6. There will be a holdback period of 150 days (4 months) after the first day of each movie released. What this means is that a movie cannot be screened on any other platform for four months, to “ensure the film’s maximum revenue opportunity in local cinemas.” What does this mean for you? You’re going to have to wait a while until you can rewatch Between Maybes (or insert your film of choice)—whether that be on streaming, DVD, or another film showing. 


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7. This will all take effect 15 days after the circular’s publication in a newspaper. So mark your calendars, folks. In July, we start flocking to movie theatres on weekends! Say goodbye to your midweek filmy pick-me-ups! 


These changes bode extremely well for the Filipino film industry, as more people will have the chance to see locally-made movies, and Filipino films will be given the opportunity to maximize their revenues. 

We’ve come a long way from the film fiascos of 2015 and 2016 (that’s Heneral Luna’s unceremonious exit from cinemas and MMFF’s lowest-grossing year in history, in case you forgot) and a lot more support is pouring in for local movies, but every time a big Hollywood movie comes to town and it’s all we see in marquees, it’s a little disheartening. 

Fingers crossed this new policy strengthens the local film industry!