Big screen, big plans: Atrium owners plan new complex in Sofitel Towers

Published: July 20, 2011

Spurred by their success, Atrium aims to open two more cinemas in the city. PHOTO: NEFER SEHGAL

KARACHI: 

After the success of the Atrium Cinema in Saddar, its owners are planning to open another at the Sofitel Tower and Mall in Clifton in a few months. The hotel is still under construction but at a rapid pace.

“Karachi is like virgin territory, we can open up at least 30 cinemas in the city and they would be successful,” gushed film distributor Nadeem Mandviwala who started the Atrium venture. “There is a demand for it so why shouldn’t we provide it?”

Indeed, the Atrium has done good business, winning over sceptics who pooh-poohed its location: Saddar. For Mandviwala, the location was not as important as the opportunity to run a modern cinema complex. “The original layout for Atrium Cinema included two screens and an auditorium. The opportunity was good and we decided to add another screen and make it better,” he said. “The traffic and parking concerns were present. A lot of people told us, you’re opening a cinema in Saddar, who will go watch a movie there. Look at it now. On Monday mornings we usually have 500 people! It is madness!”

Mandviwala assesses that in the past people did not like watching movies at the cinema because of the claustrophobic environment. “Today, the cinema culture has picked up worldwide and is creating a strong base in Pakistan,” he said. “We have experimented with cinemas in Karachi before and have received a good response from the people. They are attracted to new cinema technology.”

Although the technology is expensive, it costs roughly Rs50 million per 3D screen, there are people who want to invest in the market. “The equipment is available but since there is no infrastructure to support the technology, we suffer,” he added. “Our technicians are somewhat naïve when it comes to digital technology and theatre.”

One of the Atrium’s challenges have been breakdowns. If one of the programmes or part of the screen malfunctions then they have to send it abroad to get fixed. “The products we use do not have a customer service department in Karachi or Pakistan,” remarks Mandviwalla. But hopefully, with time, these challenges too will be overcome.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 20th, 2011.

Reader Comments (15)

  • Sam
    Jul 20, 2011 - 10:33AM

    love atrium however my only advice is that all shows post 9 o clock should be for adults ony. iv come many a times to watch the latest block buster and been angered by irresponsible parents bringin in infants who cry or talk loudly during the movie.. its distracting and annoying..

    having said that eeverythign else gets a thumbs up from me..

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  • aamir khan
    Jul 20, 2011 - 11:25AM

    our cinema ownere should get the guts now to show ” The god delusion” of richard dawkins in our cinemas.After 45,000 lives lost to religious terrorism in our country it is high time that dawkins,hitchens and sam harris get their voices heard by our public.

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  • sidra tanvir
    Jul 20, 2011 - 11:42AM

    @aamir khan:

    Dawkins,hitchens should be made compulsory reading in our school books.
    additionally bill maher’s videos should be shown on our tv channels so that our people know that to have an open,rational and questioning mind is a good thing.Sticking blindly and fanatically to religious dogma has brought us nothing but death and destruction.It’s time we gave hitchens and dawkins a chance.

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  • Sam
    Jul 20, 2011 - 11:52AM

    @aamir khan:

    would u ever invest millions from ur own pocket and then dare to do somethign that would set ablaze ur investment? before u begin to convince me u will let me be upfront.. u wouldnt.. so lets not bring it down to “guts” when we areselves are short on the same

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  • sarmad ahmad
    Jul 20, 2011 - 12:20PM

    @Sam:

    why does a cinema have to be set ablaze by our ‘mard-e-momins’ in the first place? sam,your mind didn’t go towards condemning the mindset that would set fire to cinemas because they don’t agree with what’s being shown.I too am a very big fan of dawkins and hitchens.i would also watch on tv if bill maher’s show or wafa sultan’s lectures were shown as i believe in freeing one’s self from religious dogma and rituals.

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  • SavePakistan
    Jul 20, 2011 - 1:08PM

    ATRIUM Management needs to really improve their service.
    Their telephone numbers never work, their online registration is bad, making it impossible to book seats in advance unless one goes there in person.Recommend

  • Sam
    Jul 20, 2011 - 3:32PM

    @SavePakistan:

    oh God yes thats one big issue.. at the information booth they are quick to answer but even if they transfer the calls to the ticket booth the call drops before they answer.. at times its taken me 3-4 days of relentless calling to get the job done… iv realized its more convenient for me to just go buy the tickets instead.

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  • Jul 20, 2011 - 4:30PM

    @aamir khan:
    More people die from heart disease than from terrorism, I dont see movie being made on it.

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  • Zain
    Jul 20, 2011 - 5:27PM

    Atrium should open a cinema on the PECHS/KDA/Karsaz sides. Huge market in these areas.

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  • Asad
    Jul 20, 2011 - 8:05PM

    Good job Mandviwala – Karachi has great potential for cinemas and cinema-going culture is much better than gun culture or even couch potato-TV-watching culture.
    @aamir khan – you’re spot on, however, starting to show such programmes on TV would be more pragmatic. I’m afraid Dawkins would be too much to take for our conservative society, let’s start with more benign scientists like Carl Sagan (epic ‘Cosmos’ series), Stephen Hawking (numerous documentaries including Stephen Hawking’s Universe) or various BBC Horizon science programmes to cultivate a culture of science, reason and enlightenment and to counter the culture of dogma and hate that is currently taken hold of us.

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  • Umair Waheed Sheikh, Khayban e Hafiz,IBA Karachi
    Jul 20, 2011 - 10:06PM

    Good for me. Now I can go with my old flames to watch a movie closer to my place of residence and my fiance wont even know about it ;)

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  • Jul 21, 2011 - 2:12AM

    Good job, Atrium Cinemas! We Karachites always needed a cinema with nice environment where we could watch movie with our friends and family. You did a great job by providing and maintaining a nice environment for educated audience of Karachi.
    Looking forward to see Clifton branch open soon. :)

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  • Umer
    Jul 21, 2011 - 2:58AM

    @aamir khan:
    Why should they play movies that promote atheism in a country like Pakistan for a few deluded wannabes? We are an Islamic nation, but in your view to be Islamic is to kill and cause destruction and to bring peace we should be Atheists. Its just absurd extreme thinking. Besides why are people here asking for boring atheist documentaries to be shown: they don’t even do that in western countries – why don’t u all just chill out and ask for just a new entertaining blockbuster movie for goodness sake!

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  • Sam
    Jul 21, 2011 - 4:24AM

    @sarmad ahmad:

    im all for it but my reservation keeping practicality in mind is that given the looneys here its not a good business decision.. theyr not running a charity.. its a revenue generating stream.. so keeping that in mind would they show such movies.. probably not… do i agre with that decission.. i dont care to go either ways on this since its not my decission to take

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  • Aadil M
    Jul 26, 2011 - 4:08AM

    Tooba,
    The information you have stated in the article above is actually … Wrong.
    The owners of the new project in Sofitel are NOT “Mandviwalla Entertainment”.
    Recommend

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