Thursday, 21 February 2019

Cinema revival continues in Pakistan: Another theater opens in Attock

22:07 By Lollywood Online No comments


The expansion of movie-theaters in the country continues, and it seems the pace is picking up. Just a few weeks back, we announced that IMGC was set to open a 146 seat new theater, the IMGC Cineplex in Sargodha. Now, a revamped cinema has been launched in the cantonment area of Attock city after a gap of nearly three decades.

Called the PAC cinema, the theater houses 350 seats and features Dolby 7.1 surround sound. Previously an older cinema, it was refurbished to a public auditorium during the collapse of the movie exhibition business during the 90s.

Following the recent upturn in movie theater revenues in the country, the management took a decision in 2018 to revert it to a cinema, albeit a modern digital one. Renovations, which include addition of a modern sound system, luxury reclining seats and improved d├ęcor, were completed during the latter half of the year.

The PAC cinema saw a soft launch in November, exhibiting a mix of foreign and Pakistani content on its single screen. However, the management stated that in the absence of movie going culture in Attock and accessibility issues to the theater’s locality, the response was rather muted. Following a public information campaign, which saw promotions on local cable networks as well as on billboards, audience turnout has improved.

Previously, movie buffs in Attock had to travel for two hours by road to get to the nearest cinema in Islamabad-Rawalpindi. The addition of a modern screen has made the experience of going to a theater more affordable and convenient.

While this is a step in the right direction, more such initiatives are required. Currently, Pakistan has one of the lowest screen density in the world. The figure is a woefully inadequate one of 0.8 screens per 10 million people, against 10 in India, 90 in China and 124 in the US. While reports indicate that the new Pakistani government is interested in drastically improving the number of screens, little progress has been visible on ground to substantiate those claims and screen growth remains slow.

Saad Sharif, manager at Odeon Multiplex cinemas, believes the non-optimal screen growth is attributable to the high risk and high investment nature of cinema exhibition business that relies in large part on imported software. Emphasizing that indigenous content is the way to go as it can reduce the risk involved, he said “Government and local movie producers need to sit down (and) seriously find ways (to) facilitate film makers and investors to produce more films so that our dependency on foreign content is minimized.”

Roughy 60% of Pakistan 200 million plus population is rural, and there is much scope in this untapped market that also includes smaller cities and semi-rural areas. The government needs to provide tax breaks and ease regulations in the licensing process for cinemas to further incentivize establishment of theaters in these areas. With the success of new movie theaters in towns such as Mandi-Bahauddin, Sargodha and now Attock, it is hoped more investors will seize the opportunity to accelerate the growth of cinemas in the country.

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