The current restriction on films from across the border is somewhat reminiscent of a similar situation in the latter half of 2016 that followed the Uri incident. Back then, the Pakistani film industry’s revival was only a few years old and the industry since then has seen a surge in box office successes. Here we list some of the many reasons why now Pakistan is in a better spot to deal with any possible shortage of content.
1. A more developed movie industry releasing more mainstream content
In 2016, replacing the Indian content were films like Dobara Phir Se, Lahore Se Agay, Salute, 3 Bahadur: Revenge of Baba Balaam and Saya-e-Khudai Zul Jalal. All of them, especially Dobara Phir Se and Lahore Se Aagay, turned out to be disappointments as far as content was concerned. Saya-e-Khudai Zul Jalal was an outright washout while 3 Bahadur was meant for a younger audience hence had a limited appeal. The period also saw lesser known fare like 8969 and Rahm release to an expectedly poor response.
The current film industry has seen some filtering out happen already, therefore film makers have a better idea of what works and what will not. As a result, releasing in March are 3 mainstream films – “Laal Kabootar”, “Sherdil” and “Project Ghazi”. All three of these look promising, and depending on good marketing, have potential to open well.
2. Better timing
The first half of the year traditionally sees a lull at the Pakistani box office. This year is no different. The 3 Pakistani releases in March, coupled with Hollywood fare like Captain Marvel, Hellboy, Aladdin and Godzilla should keep the box office sufficiently busy till and during May, when Ramadan begins. Following Ramadan would be Eid-ul-Fitr, when the film event of the year i.e. “The Legend of Maula Jatt” hits the screens and “Wrong No. 2” will be giving it company. Plus we suspect a couple of other films might choose the coveted slot, too. Therefore, any shortfall in revenues might be short-lived.
3. Greater number of potential box office successes
The year has around 28 films scheduled for release – the highest number ever, of which at least 10 have potential to be commercial hits. The greater volume of releases naturally gives more flexibility to cinema owners to adjust their schedules to minimize any potential loss of revenues. And if the content clicks in a big way, the year might be the perfect one for Pakistani film industry to establish itself after its revival.
4. Unlike 2016, Bollywood is controversial in Pakistan now
We all saw the manner in which the unpredictable and often unstable Kangana Ranaut chose to lash out after the Pulwama incident. And then under pressure from the Indian government, some Indian celebrities have chosen to withdraw their content. Bollywood which enjoyed a lot of goodwill in Pakistan is now controversial and has attracted a fair amount of negative attention. Film goers now may be more eager to make the switch to Pakistani content.