The big black box of a cinema hall transforms into the tiny box of a world that you become a part of. This is the best thing about 3D cinema, says Muhammad Yasir, a 27-year-old film enthusiast, after watching Carlos Saldanha’s Rio at Lahore’s first 3D cinema hall, Cine Star.
Cine Star, the first and the only 3D cinema in Punjab, has been doing well since it opened two weeks ago. “The response so far has been quite good, and Rio has been attracting crowds. A lot of youngsters and families are coming to watch the magic of 3D effects,” said an official of Cine Star.
The cinema administration is expecting the other cinemas to follow suit soon. The next 3D film Cine Star will screen is Patrick Lussier’s Drive Angry starring Nicolas Cage, Amber Heard, William Fichtner, Billy Burke, Charlotte Ross and David Morse. The price for a 3D film is Rs400, plus Rs150 for the special glasses which unlock the 3D experience. The normal price for a cinema ticket is Rs 350 in most of the A-class cinemas in the city.
Though Cine Star is the first fully equipped 3D Cinema in Lahore, 3D technology is not completely new for the city. Experts believe that 3D cinemas can attract large numbers of audiences but for that, the cinemas need more films. Film critic Zahid Akkasi said, “It was in 1962-63 when Lahoris first witnessed 3D-like video on the big screen. This was done in an exhibition called Panorama in a ground near Punjab Assembly, by the then United States Information Centre.”
The ground was covered with tents, and cars were projected onto the tents so that they seemed to approach the audience.
“This was certainly very different from today’s 3D film, but people cherished it a lot at that time. Afterwards cinemas in Lahore and Faisalabad tried to follow the same practice, but they were unsuccessful,” Akkasi said. He thinks not only 3D films, but 3D cinema halls, will become increasingly popular in the area.
“The Success of 3D cinemas depends a lot on 3D films. Right now only English movies are available in 3D, and you need at least 25 English movies throughout the year to run these cinemas. Currently, we get some five to seven new English movies per year to screen in Pakistan,” said Qaiser Sanaullah Khan, the chairman of All Pakistan Cinema Management Association.
Khan noted that the cinemas with high viewership for English movies were willing to invest in 3D technology, while other cinemas were unwilling to take the risk. “If the 3D cinemas have some 20 English films to screen throughout the year, the business of the Indian films might go down in Pakistan. Many will prefer 3D experience and a Hollywood film of 120 minutes, rather than spending three hours watching an Indian movie,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 26th, 2011.