Serious efforts are under way to revive the cinema businesses in Pakistan with huge investments making their way in to the sector through the establishment of modern multiplex cinemas.
The trend has now caught on, moving towards cities other than Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad, where urbanisation is on the rise. Not only is the elite class ready to spend heavily on entertainment, but the rising middle has also gotten in on the act.
The management AT Super Cinema, once again, is leading the race in constructing new cinemas or converting old ones into modern multiplexes.
Super Cinema recently renovated and inaugurated a decade old cinema in Sialkot cantonment this week. Public response was outstanding and tickets have already been booked in advance, reflecting the demand for entertainment, says the cinema’s management.
“With the opening of the ninth screen in Sialkot, Super Cinema has now become the biggest group to operate the highest number of screens all over Pakistan,” said Khurram Gultasab, the general manager of Super Cinema while speaking with The Express Tribune. “The journey has just started for us as we still have to cover a lot of potential cinema market in Punjab,” he added.
Super Cinema, a sister company of the Mainland Group limited, entered the business back in 2012 and recently inaugurated its ninth screen within two years’ time. The company had initially planned to establish some 13 screens all across Punjab with an estimated investment of Rs1 billion. So far, the group has invested around Rs350 million and has created employment for some 250 people. The restructuring of the Sialkot cinema cost the company approximately Rs50 million, out of which the cost of projector is around Rs20 million.
In general, the cinema industry gurus are expecting at least Rs10 billion in investment all over Pakistan by different entertainment groups to establish state-of-the art cinemas. Construction of screens is also under the process and will get operational in the coming year.
These multiplex cinemas are entirely different from traditional cinemas and successful operations are highly depended on skilled manpower, which the country lacks. According to Gultasab, the assistance of 140 small and medium scale industries is required to operate modern multiplexes, most of which are technical.
Cinemas tend to import Korean projector among other technical equipment. Local employees are also being trained by their Korean counterparts in order to facilitate troubleshooting issues.
Cities in Punjab such as Multan, Faisalabad, Gujranwala, Rawalpindi and many others are potential investment spots for the cinema industry and many are planning along the same lines.
According to industry officials, the cinemas earn the most during three days of Eidul Fitr. An average multiplex cinema like the ones located at Laskhmi Chowk or Royal Park – located in the centre of Lahore – have earned revenues of Rs11 millions. Therefore, the profitability of the cinemas depends on quality of content and national holidays when the entertainment-starved people flock towards the big screen.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 10th, 2014.