Comparing LizQuen’s separate film projects

Enrique Gil’s I Am Not Big Bird earned more in the box office than girlfriend Liza Soberano’s Hollywood debut film Lisa Frankenstein here in the country.

NIKKO Natividad, Enrique Gil and Red Ollero in ‘I’m Not A Big Bird.’ | PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF STAR CINEMA

Soberano’s film opened in the Philippines on 7 February, two days ahead its US opening. Gil’s comeback movie after four years of hibernation (with Soberano before eventually moving to the US last year) opened in theaters nationwide on 14 February. It came a day after the film had a gala premiere night that Soberano was not able to attend even as she came home that day for a quick video shoot for a product she endorses. By that time, she already knew that her horror-comedy film did not do well both here in the country and in the US despite the seemingly more than adequate publicity and promo its producer, Universal Pictures, managed to pull off in both countries.

The Philippine office of Universal Pictures did not release figures on Lisa Frankenstein’s box office take hereabout, nor did the producers of I Am Not Big Bird. But some columnists of talked with film bookers in the Philippines about the two films’ performance at the tills and learned that Gil’s movie earned P2.9 million on opening day but it’s intake peaked to a total of P10 million to possibly P15 million the whole week. That’s not bad at all since other Pinoy movies that were shown alongside that of Gil reportedly did not make beyond P2 million each throughout their whole run.

As for Soberano’s movie, it’s the worldwide revenue figure that Hollywood media reported: a mere $5 million. 

COLE Sprouse and Kathryn Newton in ‘Lisa Frankenstein.’ | PHOTOGRAPH Courtesy of Universal Pictures

It’s only in the Philippines, of course, that the movie is referred to as Soberano’s film simply because the Fil-Am actor began her career here though she was born in the US with an American mother. Lisa Frankenstein is branded in the US and in other parts of the world as the fantasy-horror teen rom-com of Kathryn Newton and Cole Sprouse. And the latest news from Hollywood is: the film is now available to watch at home. The Hollywood Reporter has announced that the film is now available to buy or rent on digital 4K Ultra HD at Apple TV, Prime Video and other transactional video-on-demand platforms.

Soberano’s performance in the film as the lead female character’s stepsister is well-reviewed in the US and even in other parts of the globe. Which must be why Soberano is staying-put there — with Gil asserting around Valentine’s Day that they still are sweethearts in real life even as they don’t see each other anymore because they are both too busy with their own concerns. Soberano’s schedule actually seems more hectic than that of Gil who even found time to be his film’s co-producer, along with Anima Studio and ABS-CBN.

It was smart of Gil to do I Am Not Big Bird without a leading lady. Pinoy moviegoers must have taken his no-leading-lady gambit as a sign of his faithfulness to Soberano. As we go to press, there are no reports yet as to what the two will do next in their respective parts of the world.

‘Wish Date’

More money is being devoted now to concerts than to films. KDR Music House now produces its unique short film within a concert practically every two months. As the entertainment production arm of Wish Radio, KDRMH used to come up with that unique production twice a year. 

Since October 2023, the company has been putting up their production in a huge venue: the Araneta Coliseum. At the same time, it introduced a live performance of some scenes of the film within the concert. 

Wish Date: Memoir in October starred Alice Dixson, Louella De Cordova, Shaira Diaz, Devon Seron and Joshua Dionisio in the film. Dixson and de Cordova appeared on stage at the Big Dome and acted several scenes live. The concert singers for that Wish Date included Kyla, Moonstar88, TJ Monterde, Hakki, Penniel and the Wish Date Chorale (which has been grandly opening and closing Wish Date shows for sometime now, though they were un-impressive in early editions).

On 26 December, Wish Date: Invisible at the Big Dome had a short film that starred actors EA Guzman, Ayra Mariano, Kate Yalung and Chris Abaya with the special participation of veteran actress Daria Ramirez. Guzman, Mariano and Yalung emoted choice scenes on stage.

The versatile singer Gigi de Lana and her band The Gigi Vibes, legendary pop and R&B band South Border, former Up Dharma Down lead vocalist Armi Millare, 8th P-Pop Awards Best Indie Singer Esay Belanio and singer-songwriter Peniel were the rousing music-makers.

The latest edition of Wish Date, its 11th, was held on 16 February and it turned out the best so far. Subtitled “Tides,” it brought back the iconic Joey Albert to the country as a vibrant singer eager to please the crowd that still remembers many of her hit songs. She has been living mainly in Canada as wife (to Vicente Pacis III) and their children for 30 years now. 

The production was engrossingly compact on a loosened stage at the Big Dome. The huge speakers that cluttered the stage in the extremely loud December show were no longer deployed. The musicians and back-up singers were visible in strategic areas of the stage and the violinists were alloted space and spotlight in some songs rendered by The Company. Wish Date shows have always had violinists and brass players in the past but they were thrown at the backmost part of the stage where they could hardly be seen by the audience. (The Company lacked one member that night, OJ Mariano, who had to leave shortly before the show began because he received a message that his mother passed away.)

Joey Albert was practically made the night’s featured singer, though Rhodessa was an effortless scene stealer from the bravura singing of Esai Belanio and Hakki, who are now both managed by KDRMH. Rhodessa, a plain looker, hardly gestures when she sings and habitually walks from left to right on stage and back to render her hit compositions, which some critics may find atonal despite the songs’ heartfelt lyrics. 

All her compositions are in Tagalog and she spiels in Tagalog while attired in preppy outfits identified with smooth English-blabbering colegialas. Her looks go against the tides.

Rhodessa was discovered by Viva Records on Spotify where self-posted recording of her ditties were determinedly gaining views in thousands, hundred thousands and then millions since two years ago yet.

At the Big Dome’s latest Wish Date, Rhodessa sang the first vocal solo after the Wish Date Chorale’s rendition of “Rewrite the Stars.” She dished out “Kisame” and at some junctures in the film’s narrative, she paced the stage plainly singing “Ideya” and later, “Isa, Dalawa, Tatlo” with The Company. 

We sat up when she belted out with a full and soaring voice ng Coldplay’s “Yellow” standing almost ramrod towards the end of the film starred by Mary Joy Apostol, Junjun Quintana, Leiel Natividad and child actor Iyannah Sumalpong. We had to acknowledge that Rhodessa could indeed sing, though we hear her unexciting and monotonous most of the time even as the crowd applauds her and even hoots at her admiringly.

Apostol and Quintana briefly appeared on stage to act out their first date as sweethearts who first met in an art gallery. The story develops into a questionable pregnancy that later caused trouble in the couple’s marriage. The storyline was credible unlike the short film shown in the December edition.

A post-event press release at finally revealed that the off-camera narrator Dr. Clark is voiced by Daniel Razon himself, the “KDR” in KDRMH. The “K” stands for Kuya. The former newscaster is now more popularly known as Kuya Daniel Razon who also heads the religious sect Ang Dating Daan. It was founded by his uncle, televangelist Eli Soriano, who died in February 2021 in Brazil, where he has been preaching since 2004. The sect owns UNTV station and Wish Radio, among other establishments, including a university.

Dr. Clark hosts the midnight Wish Date program on Wish Radio 107.5 FM where he reads letters of listeners about their bittersweet love affairs in the past.