Members of Pakistan’s film fraternity have taken to the press to address the release of what they have termed “imported films” as a preference over local cinema, despite a promising post-COVID Eid influx. Pakistani filmmakers such as Adnan Siddiqui, Wajahat Rauf, Yasir Nawaz, Syed Noor, and Hasan Zia called for a press conference at Arts Council Karachi on Saturday at 4 PM, to shed light on why the decision may be a “deathly blow” to local film producers.
As far as numbers go, Eid films such as the Saba Qamar-Zahid Ahmed-Syed Jibran starrer Ghabrana Nahi Hai, Imran Ashraf-Amar Khan starrer Dum Mastam, Ali Rehman Khan-Hania Aamir starrer Parde Mein Rehne Do, Neelum Muneer-Ahsan Khan-Yasir Nawaz starrer Chakkar and Jannat Mirza-Saima Noor starrer Tere Bajri Di Rakhi have shown great promise at local cinemas, with their collective box office collections even hinting at an encouraging nod in the journey towards the revival of local cinema. However, the fact that Benedict Cumberbatch starrer, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, was always going to pose a threat was no secret.
As per news reports, the Marvel film was to face a delay with regards to its initial release. However, with some cinemas already showcasing the film, the perceived threat to local cinema has become pertinent to address by local filmmakers.
According to trade analyst Ali Zain, there has been a “massive and close to capacity start” for Doctor Strange in Punjab and Karachi, with “opening day numbers [to] easily be the biggest of the year,” despite the film not being released in Islamabad and Rawalpindi.
Furthermore, in a tweet shared yesterday, he goes onto state that “Eid films have been sidelined” in Punjab and Karachi owing to the massive release of Doctor Strange, leading to a huge reduction in the number of shows for all films, despite the films managing good occupancies at multiplexes.
As a result, the aforementioned Pakistani filmmakers have taken to the public to address their concerns, touching upon a myriad of topics.
Choosing Foreign Films Over Local Cinema
The team of Pakistani filmmakers wishes to address how, despite the four Urdu films and one Punjabi film – all of which have been in production for over two years – showing “a healthy performance at the box office,” in a post-COVID Pakistan, “cinemas still choose foreign over local production.” Their qualm lies with the “foreign film” in question, which has occupied “more than 50% of screens and even 100% in some cinemas.”
They also wish to address how governments all over the world protect their own industry as a priority. Moreover, these Pakistani filmmakers were allegedly assured by Ministry of Information that “protection will be given.” The release of Doctor Strange, however, has put a spanner in the works, with financial ruin on the horizon, “just because restraint could not be shown for a mere three days.”
The group of Pakistani filmmakers did reiterate that while they are not againsy the release of “imported films,” and they want local cinemas to make profits, it cannot be at the cost of the local film industry.
What Happens Next?
As this appeal is made, many wait with bated breath to see which way the dice rolls. Will local films continue to be impacted by the Marvel giant, or will their concerns be taken into account? It would be safe to say that there are countless people who await this decision.