LAHORE: While the Salman Khan-starrer Dabangg broke box-office records in India, surpassing the record set by 3 Idiots in 2009, Pakistani cinemas made do with local fare as the film was not allowed screening during the Eid holiday.
According to reports, sales of pirated CDs of the film remained high during the Eid holiday, while cinema owners wished they had been able to earn through Dabangg.
According to cinemas, the four Pakistani films that were released did ‘normal’ business on Eid, while We Are Family managed to remain a money earner.
However, cinema owners in Lahore told The Express Tribune that box office collections would have been much different had the ministry of culture allowed the screening of Dabangg.
An official of Cine Star told The Express Tribune that the cinema pulled a sizeable crowd during the Eid holiday. He said that We Are Family was the top earner while Inception also did good business. “A lot of people have been calling us and asking for the booking of seats for Dabangg. We told them that Dabangg wasn’t allowed screening on Eid and they were disappointed. People were anxiously waiting for Dabangg and were deprived of watching the film in the cinema at a time when they wanted to spend money,” he said.
An official of Cine Gold cinema said that The Expendables and Inception also managed to bring in a large number of people. “We screened one Pakistani movie Wohti Leh Kay Jani Ay but it didn’t do any considerable business. Dabangg was in demand. People kept calling and asking about this movie. These days, films depend on the cast to a great extent and Salman Khan, Aamir Khan and Akshay Kumar are in demand in Pakistan.”
An official of DHA Cinema said that Inception made the most money on Eid, and the cinema halls had a 70 per cent occupancy rate. However, the DHA cinema did not screen any Pakistani film.
Pakistan Film Exhibitors Association Chairman Zoraiz Lashari said that Dabangg was denied screening at the last moment and it would have done a lot of business had it been allowed screening on Eid. He said that film exhibitors had supported the producers but they (producers) should stop living in monopoly.
A DVD shopkeeper in Gulberg said that they sold hundreds of CDs and DVDs of Dabangg on Eid. “The movie remained the most popular film this Eid,” he said. Cable operators also showed pirated prints of the film. In Karachi, film exhibitors displayed disappointment at missing out on Dabangg collections. While the film is expected to release later this week, the four-day Eid holiday would have generated a great deal of income for cinemas. According to a well-connected member of Karachi’s cinema circuit, “We released We Are Family during Ramazan but did not release any film in particular during Eid, because Pakistani films were expected. The one film by a top director that was released was in Punjabi and was released only in Punjab, what about the rest of the three provinces where they have their own regional languages? When a movie is released during Eid, it should be in Urdu, so that people all over the country can watch the movie.
“Why can’t these directors can’t make a movie like Khuda Kay Liye which had a 17 week-run in 10 cinema houses all over Karachi?” he questioned. “Salman Khan’s Wanted released last year on Eid and it did good business in Pakistan. Had Dabangg released in Pakistan around Eid it would have broken all previous records. We might be able to release this movie in a week’s time, it’s been successful worldwide. We Are Family is a nice family movie but it is certainly is not a blockbuster hit like Dabangg.”
With additional reporting by Saadia Qamar in Karachi
Published in The Express Tribune, September 14th, 2010.
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