The cinema of Pakistan is commonly known as Pakistan’s film industry. Most of the feature films shot inPakistan are in Urdu language but there are also films made in Punjabi, Pashto, Balochi and Sindhi languages.
Before the 1971 war,Pakistanhad three main film production centers inLahore,KarachiandDhaka. During the era of Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, VCRs, film piracy, entertainment taxes, and Islamic laws significantly hindered the growth of the industry. Once thriving, the cinema inPakistannow barely exists.
The Pakistani film industry however is still credited with producing some of the most famous filmmakers, actors, writers and directors in the region. Competition from the neighboring country led to the industry’s downfall, although currently several Indo-Pakistan ventures are promising to help in its revival.
Decline of Cinemas in Pakistan
Since 1995, the government ofPakistanhas kept its eyes closed on the decrease in the number of cinema halls and theatres in the country. There were 750 cinema theatres in 1990 (even more before then), but that number declined to 175 by 2002. The remaining cinemas are reported to be in very poor conditions.
Pakistan’s First Cineplex
As a city,Karachibegan to grow at a fast pace in the late 60’s and the price of the property shot up significantly. At thepeakofPakistanicinema industry in the mid 1970s,Karachialone had more than 100 cinema halls and more than 200 films were produced and released each year. Now, fewer than ten of these houses remain. The same happened a little later inLahoreas well. This caused the film industry to lose large revenues, making the industry even less attractive for investment. Many professional financiers left the cinema industry ofPakistan.
The Universal Multiplex in Karachiopened in 2002. The future viability of film-making business in Pakistanis evidenced by the fact that now many global companies are interested in investing in the theater business in the country.
Even though, the Pakistanfilm industry has almost vanished from the cinemas in Pakistanbut the tendency of going to cinemas has not ended . People still want to go out for movies and it is now viewed that the trend of quality cinemas is pacing up. There are very few entertainment opportunities for people in Pakistan. During the past 3 years the trend of plays, cinemas, stage shows and clubs has increased significantly. Out of all these trends, cinema is the most profitable venture in Pakistan these days. Although it requires a huge initial investment but it becomes a profitable business in the long run.
Cinepax is the first of its kind cinema in Pakistanwhich was opened in 2007 in the city of Rawalpindi. The word CINE is used all over the world for cinema chains with variations according to the locality like Cineworld, Cinemax, Cineplex , Cinepax etc. Cinepax is the first 5 screens multiplex cinema in Pakistanwhere people can choose from 5 different movie options. The total seating capacity of the cinema is 1400. Cinepax is also targeting the larger cities of Pakistan which include Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Faisalabad, Gujranwala, Multan and Hyderabad. The 5 year build-out plan for Cinepax is the establishment of 120 screens.The initiative was taken by Arif Habib Group, UBL, Ignition Media Ltd. and Ajeej Capital of Saudi Arabia.
Cinepax is also the first dedicated Cineplex company in Pakistan. They are building the country’s first nationally branded cineplex chain. The firm says that it is dedicated to introduce a world-class, film-going experience to the people of Pakistanby building state of the art film theaters in the urban areas. Cinepax will have multiple cinemas in each location and is committed to screening premium content in a family-friendly environment. Eventually, they intend to bring families back to the theaters by providing a quality experience, and assert that the multiplex culture can only help.
Currently, Cinepax is operating smoothly and meeting the required international standards. The annual occupancy rate is 35% whereas the international standard for annual occupancy is 33%. Cinepax has played 45 movies up till now since 2007.
Cinepax screens Hollywoodfilms within a month of their international release dates and also screens the best of international and Pakistani cinema. It has contracts with distributors like Box Office which provide movies on commission basis. The number of seats purchased for one movie has a commission percentage for the distributor.
The land has been bought by the investors of the Cinepax on a lease of 25 years from the district authority and rent is paid annualy. The major expenses of the cinema include employees’ pays, utlility bills, movie buying budgets and maintenance of projectors and other equipment. The total work force of Cinepax is 70.
It is an untapped business opportunity for investors. Competition is vital for this business to prosper. More cinemas are required in the metropolitan cities ofPakistanas there is a huge target audience. Even cinemas working on a small scale can easily earn in big cities. The number of cinemas can be increased to one or two and even more in a single city. Every cinema has its own market in its suburbs.
Cinepax keeps on advertising in mediums like newspapers, radio stations and TV channels and regularly updates the audience about the latest attractions. It also has a profitable inside restaurant and most of the cinemas in the world earn more from the refreshments than the tickets sold.
The cinema business requires huge initial investment with a breakeven time of 4 years but only if the cinema is maintained properly. It also depends on the quantity and the kind of movies shown annually. After the breakeven point, the annual profits are 12% of the initial investment.