Fifty Shades of Grey is one of the most highly anticipated movies this year. The movie will hit theatres on February 11, 2015 in the Philippines. However, the biggest cinema chain in the Philippines, SM Cinema, will not be showing Fifty Shades of Grey in its theatres as it follows its traditional rule of not exhibiting R18 movies.
Fans of the movie in the Philippines will be lucky to see it earlier than most since the movie will open here on February 11, ahead of its February 13 release in the United States.
Decades ago, Hollywood movies are usually shown in the Philippines a few months after their American releases. Due to movie piracy, that practice has changed. Now, Hollywood films are released worldwide almost simultaneously. If Hollywood delays the exhibition of its movies in foreign markets, chances are, fans would have seen the pirated versions before the actual movie opens locally. Because movies traditionally open in the Philippines on a Wednesday, we get to see Hollywood films ahead of our American counterparts.
SM (SM:PM see latest stock quote), is the Philippines’ biggest chain of malls. Since most Filipinos see movies in malls (see related post about SM here), SM also happens to be the Philippines’ biggest (and most powerful – and the movie producers know it!) cinema chain owner.
A few years ago, when SM decided to ban all R18 (suited for 18 years old and above only, as rated by the Philippines’ movie classification board) movies, sexy films significantly declined in popularity. They still exist today as independent films shown in a handful of non-SM cinemas starring unknown or washed up actors.
Fifty Shades of Grey is probably the most anticipated sexy movie in many years. The film also enjoys mainstream appeal. The fact that it will be on worldwide release on Valentine’s week will only help its cause. Will SM Cinemas stick to its self imposed rules or will it make an exception just for this one juggernaut of a movie?
Since the movie recently got an R18 rating because of scenes like this…
… according to this tweet, SM won’t.
The mall will not only lose out on ticket sales but also on related revenues. The mall chain can boost sales of its Valentine related merchandise by tying it up with the movie. Whips, blindfolds and handcuffs – if the mall actually has them in stock – will now have to sell themselves without help from the film.
This is an opportunity for SM’s largest rivals, Ayala and Robinson’s malls (mall owners in the Philippines are also the country’s biggest theatre owners), which have no prudish rules in place.
Unfortunately, the film’s distributors submitted it for classification with blurs and screen blocks (seriously!) so it will be shown in theatres with those. The movie has already been banned in Malaysia.
Blurs and screen blocks? I guess many will have to see the film “off-theatre” to enjoy it in its full glory. It’s safe to say that the movie will also be a hit as a video release and even more so in its torrent downloaded pirated version.
So how about SM Cinemas? Can they still cash in on this phenomenon?
They can probably screen the lego version.
– Finance MD