'Banning Bollywood films will mean a paucity of content to keep the multiplexes and theatres running profitably.'
Urvi Malvania reports.
An escalation of tension at the India-Pakistan border has always affected the cultural and sporting ties between the neighbours.
So, Pakistan on Wednesday, February 27, declaring a ban on release of Indian movies in the country wasn't a surprise.
But the move is only expected to hit the Pakistani film industry, especially the exhibition sector, say experts.
"Pakistan has close to 170 viable screens. Bollywood and local films are the main content. Banning Bollywood films will mean a paucity of content to keep the multiplexes and theatres running profitably," says a distributor with knowledge of the cinema market of India's neighbour.
In comparison, India has more than 9,000 viable screens.
In fact, with 748 screens India's largest multiplex chain PVR alone has 4.5 times the screens in Pakistan.
According to industry estimates, the total Pakistani box office is around Rs 60 crore to Rs 65 crore (Rs 600 million to Rs 650 million), half of which is cornered by Indian films.
This is minuscule compared to India's Rs 10,300 crore (Rs 103 billion) domestic theatricals business.
India's international box office business for 2018 is expected to be around Rs 2,500 crore (Rs 25 billion), according to the FICCI-EY 2018 media and entertainment report.
Pakistan's contribution to India's overseas box office collection comes to Rs 30 crore (Rs 300 million) a year, or 1.2%.
In 2018, 21 Pakistani films hit the cinema halls in that country, while the number of Indian films released there was 41.
The problem for Pakistan runs deeper though.
Since Indian films also form a significant part of the content at multiplexes and single screens, the exhibitors will find themselves with a dearth of content.
This will impact their ability to sustain the business as well, say experts.