Saturday 28 May 2016

Punjab continues to be the biggest film market

11:45 By Lollywood Online

LAHORE: While Karachi may have become the hub of film-making, leaving Lahore staggering behind, there’s no gainsaying that Punjab still remains the biggest market for movie-goers. In the turn of events, it seems as though 2016 will be the year for a revolution in the cinema industry in Punjab, as various business groups have shown interest towards investing in digital cinemas across the province. Around 12 digital cinemas are expected to open by the end of the year, with the biggest attraction being an 11-screen multiplex in Lahore. The movie theatre is being built by the Nishat group in the premises of Packages head office in Defence, Lahore.
At the moment, there is a cumulative of 80 cinemas in Punjab, with the figure including both operational and non-operational exhibition spaces. Out of these 32 are located in Lahore with 10 supporting digital projection and 22 being standalone cinemas with analogue projectors.
The sudden increase in digital cinemas in Lahore is a direct result of an avalanche of local and international films in the past few years. These include Cinepax, 3D Super Cinema, DHA Cinema, Sozo World, PAF Cinemas, Cinestar IMAX, Luxus Grand Cinemas and Cine Gold. To the surprise of many, the masterminds behind these existing cinemas have also lent a helping hand in the establishment of more of the same kind. Cinestar is opening a cinema on MM Alam Road in Lahore, the Kohat cement company in Gulberg, and Cinepax in Model Town, Muree and Gujrat. Cinepax will also be constructing two cinemas in Multan.
Known film importers and distributors, IMGC Entertainment is also investing in digital movie theatres in Islamabad, Gujrat, Mandi Bahauddin, Sargodha and Jhelum district. “Producers are appreciating the construction of new cinemas in Lahore and other big cities of the country. The preparations for new cinemas are in full swing. We are extending our reach to other cities, so people in lesser developed cities get to experience digital projection as well,” Shahzad Awan, Public Relations Officer at IMGC entertainment told The Express Tribune. 
Awan also revealed that the cinemas in Islamabad and Lahore will be five-screen-multiplexes while the remaining cinemas will only feature two screens. Concurring with Awan, film producer Mian Amjan Farzand stated “It is great to see new groups investing in the cinema sector. Soon, there will be no complaints from film-makers and producers about the shortage of exhibition spaces in their cities. It is because of the quality of films and a relatively stable law and order situation that we are witnessing such a boom.” He was hopeful that soon the Pakistani cinema industry will attract foreign investment as well.
While back in the day 900 cinemas were functioning across the country, the numbers are now down to 130 (including non-operational cinemas). These numbers were much worse considering that the 2011 film Bol was released only on 38 screens across Pakistan.
The years that followed saw a remarkable increase in the number with 2013 blockbuster Waar being released on 54 screens and films releasing in 2016, having an available exhibition network of more than 80. Despite the enormous numbers shown at Nueplex and Atrium cinemas in Karachi, Punjab has consistently held the lion’s share, even in the digital age. 57% of the whopping Rs220 million earnings of Bilal Lashari’sWaar were generated from Punjab, followed by Sindh holding a 35% share.
Cinepax General Manager Mohsin Yaseen, acknowledged that Punjab is no longer the hub of film-making but he is positive that it will continue to be the most flourishing film market. “Punjab was and will continue to be your most important film circuit. It has more cities with a denser population as compared to the rest of the province so, for your film to do well generally, it has to do well in Punjab,” said Yaseen. Post Eidul Fitr, Cinepax group of cinemas will be extending its reach in Sindh with a five-screen multiplex in Hyderbad.


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