A resolution to the weeks-long deadlock among producers, distributors and theatres seems to have been found. In a surprise announcement on social media, Karachi's Nueplex Cinemas said that it is going to begin screening Pakistan's blockbuster movie 'The Legend of Maula Jatt' from Thursday (today).
'The Legend of Maula Jatt' will start screening from Thursday 27th October at Nueplex Cinemas, it said in a twitter post.
At the moment, the film is screening for a ticket price of Rs1,000 for the regular show and Rs1,400 for Royal Cinema — the same price as the rest of the films screening alongside it at Nueplex.
Directed by Bilal Lashari, the movie has been said to have taken a decade to make, and crossed a gross revenue of Rs1 billion in its first 10 days of global screening — a new milestone for Pakistani cinema.
Starring Fawad Khan and Hamza Ali Abbasi in lead roles along with Mahira Khan and Humaima Malick, the blockbuster opened worldwide to wide critical and commercial acclaim on October 13.
The movie grossed Rs509 million or roughly $2.3 million in the first week at the box office worldwide, and sat at number one in the UAE at the box office, number six in Canada, number eight in Australia and number nine in the UK back then.
In Pakistan, however, the film reportedly only released across 50% of cinemas, due to a disagreement over the distribution of ticket sales and ticket-prices between the distributor, Mandviwalla Entertainment and Cinema-owners.
Earlier, Nueplex Cinemas had released a statement on Twitter, explaining why the film has been delayed in theatres.
“We feel that it is highly unfortunate that Mandviwalla Entertainment who is the distributor of the title ‘The Legend of Maula Jatt’ and also manages Atrium Cinemas, Karachi is asking for Exhibition Terms, which are out of the Industry norms. The Producers of the film have expressed their willingness to screen the film at Nueplex Cinemas on the usual terms but are being advised to the contrary by the film’s Distributor. We feel that this will negatively impact the box-office gross of the film.”
In response, the CEO of the distribution company, Nadeem Mandviwalla, held a press conference in Karachi, offering his own clarification on the dispute, citing how at the end of the day, filmmaking and distribution is commercial business and filmmakers want to cover their costs.
He stated that the only way a high-budget movie can become commercially successful is to increase ticket prices, as they tried to do.
He reasoned that high-budget movies are usually shown across 4,000 screens in Hollywood and 12,000 screens in India but unfortunately, Pakistan only has 144 screens, leaving distributors to recover costs through other means.
He did cite that no matter the delay, the film, whether screened now or at a delayed date, will draw the same crowd and not affect its commercial viability.
He also claimed that it was by far the best Pakistani film he has seen in his 42-year career.
The Punjabi-language film, which boasts one of the biggest budgets in the history of Pakistani cinema, is a reboot of Yunus Malik’s 1979 cult classic ‘Maula Jatt.’
The film focuses on the legendary rivalry between local hero Maula Jatt, played by Khan, and Noori Natt, played by Abbasi, the leader of a brutal gang.
Critics and fans have praised the film for its cinematic excellence, scale, actors, cinematography, music, and visual effects.