Pakistani cinema received a wholehearted endorsement from audiences across the country this Eid-ul-Fitr, with the two local releases Chhalawa and Wrong No. 2 outperforming Hollywood biggie Aladdin by a considerable margin. The two films also collectively hauled significantly higher figures than the combined numbers of last year’s four Eid-ul-Fitr openers, which featured top-billed films such as 7 Din Mohabbat In and Azaadi, in what can be only described as a significant upsurge in audience interest as well as the fortunes for local films this year.
The two films fully capitalized on the five days extended holiday by running to near packed capacity at theaters across the country. Sami Khan and Neelam Muneer starrer Wrong No. 2 hauled in 11.05 Crores over the five-day festive period, according to official figures released by Geo Films, whereas Wajahat Rauf’s Chhalawa managed a business of 11.12 Crores (officially) over the same period. The films' aggregate figures broke the 20 Crores threshold, which will be a first for an Eid-ul-Fitr release period in the country. While both films opened to quite favorable occupancies on the first day of Eid, their collections saw a major upswing on the second day of Eid. They were able to sustain their business over the coming days, with the collections only climbing down from their hyper-elevated Eid levels during the evening and night shows on Sunday.
Speaking exclusively to HIP, exhibitor Nadeem Mandviwalla who runs the ME Cinemas chain, said “Both the films saw 95% occupancies over the first four days, with Wrong No. 2 having a bit of an edge over Chhalawa in Karachi. Both films are doing equally well in Islamabad.” This was pretty much the story across other theaters as well. Saad Sharif, GM at Odeon Cineplex theatres in Islamabad-Rawalpindi stated that Wrong No. 2 and Chhalawa recorded occupancies of 90% an 80% respectively over the entire 5 day period, which factors in the falls on Sunday.
When queried about the word of mouth for the two films, Sharif stated: “(The word of mouth is) pretty positive to be honest. I guess what people want at the end of the day is entertainment and a few laughs, to escape from their already tense lives. These two movies have been successful in delivering that to the audience. With a good mix in Aladdin and Godzilla, there is something for everyone in this long Eid weekend. Cinemas have waited far too long for such days. Everyone is a winner!.” Nadeem Mandviwalla echoed these sentiments, stating that “The audience is responding to the movies so they are good enough for them, proving once again that the paying public relies on its own judgment.”
The acid test for the two films came yesterday, on the Monday following the extended holiday period. According to Saad Sharif, the two movies saw normal falls of 40-50% at Odeon, showing that the content has, by and large, clicked with the public.
Coming to foreign releases, Hollywood’s tentpole summer blockbuster Aladdin also generated a good response, according to Mandviwalla. “Aladdin might overtake the two Pakistani films in the long run as far as its lifetime business is concerned,” he noted. Official figures for the film were not available at the time of filing this story.
With Chhalawa and Wrong No. 2 setting the ticket counters abuzz with activity, all eyes are now set on ARY Films' next big summer release Baaji, which hits the screens on June 28.