In a twist of fate, after the unfortunate arson of movie theatres in 2012, 2013 proved to be the year of development for them. In the last twelve months, 20 new screens have been set up, multiplying revenue possibilities for film producers, distributors and exhibitors more than ever before.
This newfound success has given a major psychological boost to filmmakers who, in the past, made films merely out of passion. Shoaib Mansoor was the only obvious exception to this, having churned out hit after hit irrespective of the number of screens or the season of release. The rest fell prey to the ‘lack of infrastructure’ argument.
That sorely missing infrastructure was invested in in 2013 in the form of multiplexes like Nueplex and Centaurus. Because of these grand viewing sites, numbers took up prime importance for local films once again.
‘Mein Hoon Shahid Afridi’ crossed the total business of ‘Chambaili’ in its first week, raking in Rs22.2 million, whereas ‘Waar’ broke every possible record by crossing the Rs200 million milestone.
These numbers indicate a massive growth in the cinema-going culture. The potential investors are drawn in. This is why Pakistan is expected to see twice as much growth in the coming year with 50 more screens in the pipeline for 2014 and many other films entering the production phase.
And yet, despite all this, there was a dismal side to 2013, as well. This is where the Mubasher Lucman hue and cry regarding the ban on Indian films comes in. Although this time around, his concerns over the misdeclaration of films were legitimate, the petition was put aside. What this means is that since there is still no proper legislation completely protecting or banishing the screening of Indian films, there can be another such episode any time, one that will do nothing but hinder the progress of cinema.
If the government doesn’t intervene in the import of foreign films and support cinema owners to the fullest, this can become our most powerful export. It’s all a matter of intent – the numbers will follow.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 31st, 2013.