Cinemas reopen, but how are films doing at box office?

Published January 14, 2022
A view of a famous cinema on M. A. Jinnah Road on Thursday, where local and foreign films are screened.—Fahim Siddiqi / White Star
A view of a famous cinema on M. A. Jinnah Road on Thursday, where local and foreign films are screened.—Fahim Siddiqi / White Star

KARACHI: In October last year, it filled cine-goers with immense joy to know that cinemas were being reopened after a lapse of more than a year. They had been closed due to the dangerous situation caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, which by the way, has not gone away.

As expected, the resumption happened with a decent number of Hollywood movies. Ever since India’s films have been banned from screening in Pakistan, cinema owners are dependent on movies made in Pakistan and those in the West to keep their business afloat. So it all began with two major releases: Dune, directed by Denis Villeneuve and Eternals helmed by Chloe Zhao. Both were different kettle of fish: Eternals was based on the Marvel Comics race and Dune was an adaptation of the novel by Frank Herbert with the same title that came out in 1965. The Villeneuve directed venture had received tremendous reviews while Zhao’s effort leaned more towards a commercially viable product the kind of which is popular among younger audiences, so both had their takers.

One does not know how exactly they fared at the box office. But the hope was that with the arrival of Spider-Man: No Way Home with Jon Watts in the director’s chair and the Pakistani film Khel Khel Mein directed by Nabeel Qureshi things will look up. It proved half right. While Spider-Man did pull in huge crowds, one is not sure about Khel Khel Mein. In between came films that had done great business internationally, such as the Bond movie No Time To Die and Steven Spielberg’s musical West Side Story. Theywere screened to lukewarm responses.

Talking to Dawn on the subject, film exhibitor Nadeem H Mandviwalla said, “It’s only Spider-Man… It has broken all records in Pakistan’s history. It’s crossed Rs30 crores [Rs300 million]. The only [other] picture which worked a little better is Venom.”

Spider-Man breaks all records as it crossed Rs300m in Pakistan

Replying to a question whether the not-so-encouraging situation is Pakistan-specific, he argued, “It’s all over the world. Everything remains in the pandemic. Cinemas have been closed down in India. And again, pictures are getting delayed. For example, No Time to Die was delayed here. Had they arrived on time, they would have done much better [at the box office].”

Mr Mandviwalla added the next two to three months will be difficult. Everything will roll out from Eid. If films such as Uncharted (starring Tom Holland, Mark Wahlberg, Sophia Ali and Antonio Banderas) remain on release dates, they might do good business.

Published in Dawn, January 14th, 2022

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