By Aayan Mirza
Fast and Furious today stands as one of the biggest active film franchises in the world, 17th biggest of all time in terms of its gross revenues only in Northern American territory. The last instalment of the series, Fast and Furious 6, did a whopping business of over $780 million worldwide.
Thus, and very naturally, whenever a Fast and Furious film releases, everyone wants a share of the pie, the distributors and exhibitors specially crave for it. But what if you are both, the sole distributor of the film in the country and one of the biggest exhibitors at the same time, you may become that bully boy who wants the largest piece of the pie.
Well, the same is happening with Furious 7 in Pakistan. The film in the country has hit cinemas today (April 3rd 2015), synced with its release in USA, UK and some other countries. The things are going fine, people are watching the film, certain shows are already sold out, but there is someone missing in the whole equation.
That missing someone is Nadeem Mandviwallah’s Mandviwalla Entertainment (ME). Owner of Atrium Cinemas Karachi and Centaurus Cineplex Islamabad, ME is one of the biggest exhibition players in the country. It is missing in the equation because as per in it’s own words, “Cinepax/Footprint Pvt. Ltd., distributors of film “Furious 7″ have not supplied the film to ME-Cinemas, Atrium Cinemas, Karachi and Centaurus Cineplex, Islamabad,” and thus a no show for Furious 7 fans at the two cinemas.
While Cinepax cinemas in both the cities are in direct competition with ME-Cinemas, there exist other players too, and all have been provided with the film. Nueplex Cinema in Karachi, that directly competes with both, Atrium and Cinepax in the city, is even running a few sold out shows of the film.
It is certainly not unprecedented and with cinema owners increasingly expanding their foothold in the distribution business, it is becoming more and more of a norm. Has happened in past with The Theory of Everything, Lucy and even the year’s first Pakistani film, Good Morning Karachi.
So it is either a case of gaining a little monopoly on the film, or a possibility that Footprint and ME couldn’t reach to a profit sharing agreement, where Footprint would obviously be asking for more which ME wouldn’t be agreeing to give.
A private competition in businesses is generally attributed with low prices, increased choice for customers and improved quality, but it can be expected to get messy when players start getting stronger than the industry as whole.
So what to take from the whole scene:
a) Fast and Furious is a big deal in terms of money in film world
b) Footprint Pvt. Ltd is Furious 7’s distributor in Pakistan.
c) Footprint has association with Cinepax Cinemas.
d) Cinepax Cinemas have direct competition with ME-Cinemas (Atrium and Centaurus).
e) Footprint got a little greedy and barred ME from exhibiting the film at their cinemas
f) something naughty, but certainly not unprecedented.
g) Can happen again in future. From the other side too
h) It’s all business baby! (Or in other words, ‘Sab ganda hai par dhanda hai’)