Movies Review

What does coronavirus propose for the future of cinema in Pakistan?

Coronavirus is posing a threat to the entire world. The global tally of coronavirus affected people grows by every second while the tally in Pakistan has reached 186 as of now. Since the pandemic shows no sign of slowing down, the government of Pakistan has taken drastic measures to stop its spread. Educational institutes have been shut down till May 31st and cinema houses closed down. Public gatherings have been limited while marriage halls have also shut down for an indefinite time period.

So what does this threat pose for the future of cinema in Pakistan, that had barely begun to thrive?

Ever since Indian films were banned, cinemas in Pakistan were barely able to stay afloat. Since no major number of films were being made in Pakistan, and those that were received a lukewarm response from the audience, the cinema houses depended upon Hollywood releases to bring in footfall to the cinemas.

According to EPK, 2019 was a very dull year for cinemas in Pakistan. None of the releases managed to cross the 300 million mark and now, the only local film to have released in 2020, Record, had been performing poorly before the cinemas shut down.

Hollywood films that were expected to bring major footfall to cinemas in Pakistan, especially the ninth installment of the Fast and Furious franchise and Daniel Craig’s No Tim To Die, have had their release dates pushed back owing to global closure of cinemas especially in China since it posed as the second biggest box office in the world.

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In Pakistan, director Nabeel Qureshi has pushed back the filming of his second film, Fatman, owing to Coronavirus threats. While other filmmakers continue with their productions, special safety measures are taken to tackle the threat while the crew is on sets. Which means, nobody knows whether or not films, slated for release this year and currently under production will be able to complete filming or not.

So what does all this pose for cinemas in Pakistan?

For now, nothing less than doom. It is indeed a very dull year for the cinema business in the country. Although we have major releases lining the Eid, since producers insist on releasing all major films on Eid, it means divided business for all. Perhaps longer screening would be able to cover the loss for these films, but what if the coronavirus threat doesn’t subside by Eid?

The situation will definitely be catastrophic for Pakistani cinema that has barely learned to survive without Indian films. Let us hope and pray, coronavirus subsides as soon as possible, not only for the betterment of cinema in Pakistan but for humanity in general.

Afshan Zahra

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