Single-screen theatres going out of fashion in Bangladesh
The number of cinema theatres around the country has been decreasing sharply with time. Dating back to the nineties, when watching movies in theatres was a preferred and popular form of entertainment for most, nearly 1,500 movie theatres were active. Even a couple of years ago, about 250 single-screen halls were in business. With the steep increase in the number of halls closing down permanently, only 70 cinema halls are actively operational at the moment.
25 districts, including Barguna, Bagerhat, Jhalokathi, Narail, Natore, Munshiganj, Narsingdi, Panchagarh, Brahmanbaria, Kurigram, Lalmonirhat, Gaibandha, Chuadanga, Khagrachari, Cox's Bazar, and Bandarban, do not have any active cinema halls today, according to Mia Alauddin, Advisor of Bangladesh Film Exhibitors' Association.
Different producers, distributors and film exhibitors have informed The Daily Star that until 2000, there were 47 single-screen theatres actively running in Tangail. That number stands at merely 10 today. Similarly, in Jashore and Sirajganj, the number of theatres has gone down from 21 to 4 and 31 to 5, respectively.
The scenario is no different in Dhaka, as cinema complexes Gulistan, Naz, Moon, Mukul, Rupmahal in Sadarghat, Shabistan in Armanitola, Diana in Postogola, and Purnima in Kawran Bazar, along with Razmoni and Razia in Kakrail have closed down over the past years. While some blame the lack of good productions as the reason behind the declining number of cinema halls, others think that good movies strive to make an impact with lesser number of screening platforms.
Furthermore, the cinema theatres which are active at the moment, are not in very good shape. "With the revenue generated from only a couple of blockbuster hits a year, it is almost impossible to cope with our maintenance expenses," asserts Iftekhar Uddin Naushad, President of Bangladesh Motion Picture Exhibitor Association, and owner of Modhumita. "With this being the case, movie halls will soon go extinct in the country."
Mushfiqur Rahman Gulzar, President of Bangladesh Film Directors' Association also addressed the issue. "As the owners cannot profit from movie theatres, the halls are being demolished and replaced with supermarkets. However, we tend to forget — how will we be able to enjoy movies without cinema halls?" he laments.