Since the beginning of the year, no new Pakistani films have hit theaters. Cinemas are on their way to becoming ghost towns again.
A lot of new films have been announced for 2023 release, but, apart from a few, they’re banking on the Eid celebrations yet again. Which means that for the rest of the year, cinemas are likely going to be barren again.
Here are 5 Things to Keep Pakistani Cinemas from Shutting Down for Good.
1. More New Pakistani Films Please!
In 2023, not a single Pakistani film has yet hit theaters. Previous blockbusters like “The Legend of Maula Jatt” and “Avatar: The Way of Water” have earned their keep and are slowly fizzling out. However, even new blockbuster films like “Antman: Quantumania” are not working for the Pakistani audience.
Ali Zain from Box Office Detail recently posted that Antman’s performance in its first week was abysmal. He has reported that cinemas were screening PSL matches to maintain their business. Capri cinema, as usual, is taking the route of closing up shop on weekdays and only opening on weekends.
With Bollywood and Indian films in general not coming to Pakistan anytime soon, audiences simply aren’t interested in going back unless something monumental comes to the screen.
2. Get Rid of the Eid Formula…PLEASE!
Why is the Eid formula still being followed? The answer is simple, it’s because Eid releases are a safe bet.
Unfortunately, most Eid films are formulaic rom-coms and family dramas which don’t make money at any other time of the year. “Tich Button” demonstrated as much when it was released in November 2022.
This year, 5 films are slated for Eid-ul-Fitr release:
1. Money Back Guarantee (MBG)
2. Huey Tum Ajnabi
5. Lahore Qalander
Thankfully none of these are formulaic rom coms. Which begs the question why the makers are hell bent on an Eid release. They should have the confidence to release their product at any time of the year. The Eid Dangal always results in a fight over scraps while one or two films lead the way.
Does anyone remember the Eid-ul-Fitr Dangal of 2022? I try not to.
There are examples of non-Eid releases doing phenomenally well in recent years. However, they are always films with a different plot. “The Donkey King” (71 Cr), “Teefa in Trouble” (50 Cr approx.) and the most recent “The Legend of Maula Jatt” (approx. 270 Cr.) have been mammoth successes outside of Eid. They all land in the top 10 list of highest grossers ever.
The Eid formula has to go, otherwise our industry can never evolve. It’s going to be 10 years now since “Waar”. It’s time to change.
3. Adopt a Consistent Release Schedule
In 2022, Pakistani Cinema had its biggest hit ever with “The Legend of Maula Jatt”. Why then did no one piggyback on its momentum and release their films in early 2023?
“Aasman Bolay Ga” and “Babylicious” are two films which should have taken advantage of audiences flocking to Maula Jatt in early 2023. There was no point in delaying these releases at all.
Babylicious was supposed to come out on 10th February, but has been pushed to Eid Ul Azha (sigh).
The only way to consistently get people interested in films is to shorten the gap between releases.
4. Cut Down Ticket Prices!
We had this discussion when “The Legend of Maula Jatt” came out last year. A 1000-rupee ticket price is not justifiable in a country marred by inflation and currency devaluation. Yet, people paid that price for the monumental film.
However, that won’t be true for other releases. The average nuclear family in Pakistan is conservatively 3-5 people. Current ticket prices mean they have to spend 2500-4000 rupees for a cinema outing…not counting the popcorn! The average citizen shouldn’t have to choose between basic necessities and a 2–3-hour movie!
We understand that cinemas need certain profits to function. With rapid inflation, they have no choice, but to raise prices. The government needs to take action and subsidize cinemas so they can sustain business, at least temporarily.
5. Smaller Cinemas Should Shift to a Weekend Schedule Like Capri
Capri has made the decision to function only on weekends to justify costs and sustain a profit margin. Other smaller cinemas and single screens should follow suit. It seems like the only way to ensure their survival.
It’s been 10 years now since the “revival”. Pakistani Cinema’s new wave has delivered some great splashes, but it’s running out of steam. These booms and busts can’t continue; they’re signs of a bipolar business rather than a stable industry.