17 January 2017
By Irfan Bukhari

Despite the popularity of home theatres, the number of cinema-goers in Qatar has increased by 35 percent over the past three years, says an official.

The number of cinema halls in Qatar has crossed 100 and around 50 new cinemas are set to be opened over the next six months. By the end of next year, the country is expected to have 200-plus cinemas, said AbdulRahman Najdi, General Manager of the Qatar Cinema and Film Distribution Company (QCFDC).

QCDFC, a leading player in the industry, is working on a plan to establish two new cinemas at Qatar National Convention Centre (QNCC) and one at Student Centre at Education City. “Most likely three new cinemas will become functional this year; two at QNCC and one at Education City,” Najdi told The Peninsula.

He said two cinemas at QNCC would have 300 seats each and the one at Students Centre would have a capacity of 400 people. Najdi said that the company had nine cinemas three each at Royal Plaza, Landmark and The Mall.

“We are working on a project to install cinema screens at QNCC and Student Centre. The auditoriums with sufficient seating arrangements are already there and our company will just install silver screens, projector, sound systems etc to convert them into state-of-the-art cinemas,” he said.

To a question on prolonged closure of Gulf and Doha Cinemas at C-Ring Road, Najdi said that discussions between various government bodies were underway on how and when to revive those non-operational cinemas.

“The two cinemas together have 2087 seats and once revived can provide excellent entertainment to the residents,” said Najdi. He said that the completion of under-construction malls like Tawar Mall with 12 screens, Msheireb Mall (20 screens), Boulevard Mall (12 screens) etc. would soon add around 50 more facilities to the country’s cinema industry.

Najdi said that the number of filmgoers was on constant increase in Qatar. “In the last three years, Qatar witnessed a 35 percent increase in number of filmgoers while in Japan and the US the growth was just 7 percent in the same span of time,” he said.

He said many people still prefer to visit cinemas despite having 80 inch 3D screens and 4k receivers at home. He said the number of cinemas in Qatar will cross 200 by the end of next year.

“There is one cinema seat for every one million people in Morocco or Egypt, while in in Qatar by the end of 2018 there will be one seat for every 100-150 people,” he claimed.

He said that around a dozen major film distributors in UAE used to release movies for Qatar which are screened after mandatory approval by censorship department of the Ministry of Culture.

“Along with Bollywood movies, action and science-fiction movies from Hollywood are very popular among cinema-goers in Qatar” he noted.

Talking on Arabic film industry, he said that conventionally Egypt used to lead the industry but it was also facing tough times. “Now Emirati (UAE) and Bahrani film industry is also picking pace and they are producing good movies,” he said, adding Doha Film Institute and events like Ajyal Youth Film Festival are promoting indigenous film production in Qatar.

“But many of the local talents want to become directors. In filmmaking all skills are needed from script-writing to editing and all departments should grow simultaneously,” he said, adding that cinemas have become a major source of entertainment in Qatar.

About current trends regarding popularity of films, he said that all types of Indian films including Hindi, Tamil and Malayalam were performing well in Qatari box office. “Dangal (Aamir Khan's hit film) has entered the fifth week in Qatar, which is a record,” he said.

© The Peninsula 2017