Students near SM City Manila has an inexpensive way to kill time. Ava, a mass communications student from Pamantasan Ng Lungsod Ng Maynila, for example, was sitting through a five-hour vacant period when I asked her about SM City Manila’s 50 pesos movie screenings called Film Fiesta.

“We usually kill time here,” Ava says. “It’s cheap and as scholars my friends will take cheap.”

According to an SM Cinema employee, their Film Fiesta offering is practically free. For 50 pesos, you get a junior-size popcorn from SM’s proprietary Snack Bar (valued at 45 pesos). That leaves the ticket priced at 5 pesos, which, wherever you look at it, is insanely cheap.

Film Fiesta has existed some years ago. I remember it was around 15 pesos at the time without the small bucket of popcorn. A major sample of their patronage are, understandably, students. SM City Manila is situated at the heart of U-belt. Letran, Mapua, Lyceum, UDM, and Pamantasan Ng Lungsod Ng Maynila are among the universities that are within walking distance from the mall.

“Aside from students, our patrons also consist of senior citizens, and people waiting for their documents to be processed sa taas,” the SM Cinema employee says. “On average, I think, we’re getting at least a hundred of patrons each screening.”

It’s also worth noting that the movies they are screening are old, but not that old. Film Fiesta screens movies from two to three years ago, mostly horror, and typically rated R-13. When I interviewed the people at the cinema, the screening was of an indie horror-thriller called Jinn.

You can watch Jinn on Netflix, which brings me to a hilarious conclusion: a Netflix subscription starts at 300+ pesos a month, and an admission to a bland Star Cinema rom-com/equally as bland Regal Films horror movie is priced at 200+. Do the math.

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