We figured out that the local producers got it all wrong.
The profile of the typical Pinoy moviegoer has changed tremendously. This whole presumption that the throngs of the masa are those who crowd movie houses and cineplexes is a gross miscalculation. I and my friends had indulged in arguments that stretched for hours profiling the audience … and we realized that all that is needed is a little bit of arithmetic.
How much does a movie ticket cost? Let's put it at P180 (and that does not include special 3D screenings that zoom up to P300 for using those infernal special glasses).
Assuming Johnny de la Cruz is going on solo flight, how much would he spend to go out of his house and catch a film? Aside from the ticket price, he has to commute to get from home to cinema and back --- and let us round that off at P100. That is, of course, if he does not decide to take his private vehicle which will spin this rough estimate off the stratosphere because we now have to include the fluctuating cost of gasoline, blah, blah, blah and maybe throw in the toll fees he had to pay if, by chance, he had to pass through the SLEX. So let's not go there.
That means that just to get his posterior from house to cinema, Johnny must be ready to invest P280. But if he decides to buy popcorn and soda to enjoy the complete cinematic experience, that means we have to include yet another P100. At a minimum, Johnny de la Cruz must dole out P380 for a movie experience enjoyed alone without the benefit of extra beverage, coffee, spaghetti, burgers or even kornik and/or shing-a-lings to appease his appetite.
Question: How many people can still afford to spend P280+ to amuse themselves on a weekend?
Now, here's the rub. What if Johnny decides to go on a date? So this means all expenses will be multiplied in two … not unless a) he is such a cheapskate that he tells his date that they go Dutch or b) he is dating someone who is paying for him --- that also includes an allowance in food, shelter and clothing. But let us keep it simple: if Johnny were Mr. Everyman, then he would be spending approximately P760 on a basic date … but wait … there is more!
Of course you cannot merely feed your date with a can of soda and a tub of popcorn. Of course it is expected that at the end of the movie Johnny brings his date to a restaurant or even a booth in a food court for lunch or dinner. Uhm, I do not think it is part of Pinoy macho culture to feed his date with hopiang munggo or even kwek-kwek from a street vendor to prove the nobility of his intentions.
So how much more do we throw into the estimate? Going on the principle of the least common denominator, would an extra P200 for two people sound reasonable? Nope. Not even on value meals and special offers. So let us throw in P300 just to be sure.
In conclusion, Johnny de la Cruz will have to spend a minimum of P280 if he takes time out to watch a movie alone … or a total of P1,060 if he indulges in a movie date completos recados with snacks and dinner. We have yet to consider how much Johnny will eventually spend if he finally has a family of maybe two children who may want to catch Smurfs or Cars 2 and go through the whole revised ritual.
What is the point of this exercise? Simple. The average minimum wage earner no longer possesses the buying power to indulge in watching movies perhaps not more than once a month. Not unless he scrimps on meals (that would spare him a hundred bucks) or sets aside x amount of pesos per day to reach the average cost per cinematic expedition, Johnny de la Cruz can no longer watch movies at its present cost.
And this also explains why the hintayin-ko-na-lang-sa-dvd syndrome has become a necessity: notwithstanding the possibility that Johnny will acquire an original DVD and not a bastard pirated copy (sold anywhere from P30 to P60 and viewable by anybody who can fit into a couch or living room), movie producers must re-think, reassess and re-evaluate who really constitutes the core market of moviegoers nowadays.
Do kids living on P100 allowances per day have the buying power to watch a movie not unless they ask their parents for extra cash? Can your average middle class parents who have to deal with rising costs of transportation, power and food afford to dole out money to satisfy the whims of their kids? Does the regular contractual employee possess disposable income for this form of diversion or entertainment --- or has a simple act of going to movies become a luxury?
So who can still really afford to watch more than one movie a month in the context of the present economy?
Photo by Jerome Ascano, NPPA Images