What’s a hit project without a few controversies surrounding it? The Legend of Maula Jatt is raking in immense success and appreciation from all over the world since its release, but the biggest problem it is currently facing is its limited release and the fact that one of the biggest cinema franchises isn’t screening the movie. Nadeem Mandviwalla, the distributor of the film, addressed a press conference to clear up the ongoing controversy after Nueplex cinema owners shared their version of the story and stated that the terms set by the distributors were out of the industry norms.
Mandviwalla shared that the film’s producers and distributors came up with a custom strategy to maximise returns within the first eleven days only. “We sat down with the major cinema owners of the country and presented a strategy that would work for all parties involved. What we offered was that the producers should get 10% more in the first 11 days of release. We compensated this by raising ticket prices for the said period and pleaded with the cinema owners to share the extra amount with the producers,” he said.
He further explained the strategy which included the exhibitors sharing 60% of the film earnings with the producers for the first eight days, and ninth day onwards, exhibitors would share the usual 50% of the total earnings with the producers. Moreover, they were to increase ticket prices by Rs200 in Karachi, Islamabad, Lahore, and Rawalpindi for the first 11 days after the release.
Mandviwalla also broke down their monetary goals for the film, which was to earn at least Rs. 100 crores initially. “If all the exhibitors had agreed and this film would have been screened in all cinemas, we would have surpassed Rs20-22 crore in the first week. Even with the inflation, we had calculated this to be the most successful Pakistan film in terms of revenue. But our plan was to make sure this film at least earns Rs100 crore. And for that, the film needed to earn at least Rs40-50 crore in the first eight days,” he said.
Another reason behind this strategy was also the lacking number of cinemas nationwide, which aren’t enough to reach international standards of opening week revenue. “We only had 144 screens altogether. We didn’t have the choice to increase the number of screens. If I had that, we wouldn’t need a special strategy since the film would have worked anyway and the film recovery would have been easier. Hence, we increased the ticket prices; we planned to not put any burden on any cinema owners, so their share would still stay fair,” he shared.
“The six big players in the cinema industry agreed to the films and three didn’t. And refusing or agreeing to the terms was their right. We didn’t pressure anyone, we only explained the strategy. There are 38 cinema owners in Pakistan. We had 34 onboard. The other four wanted us to bend the terms and we couldn’t do that,” he added.
According to Mandviwalla, the distributors are still negotiating with cinema owners and are hoping to come to a fair compromise. “I won’t rest until this film is screened in every cinema in Pakistan. We’re trying to find a middle ground here. The Arena has started screening the film as of October 20, I’m hopeful that the rest of the cinemas will come onboard soon as well,” he told the Express Tribune.