There is no doubt that cinema production is one of the cornerstones that can help in building a good economy, especially
if the country takes into consideration the right elements that can boost this significant production.
According to statistics there are four main countries that produce the biggest number of movies annually; the first rank goes to India’s Bollywood that produces 1,986 films every year. Followed by Nigeria 997 films yearly. The third rank goes to the United States with 791 films and the fourth rank goes for China, for producing 686 movies per year.
If we examine the US box office for 2017, we will find that the revenues are as follows: Star wars: The last Jedi recorded $614,351,780; Beauty and the Beast recorded $504,014,165; Wonder Woman $412,563,408; Guardian of the Galaxy Vol.2 made $389,813,101; Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle made $352,642,752.
Spider-Man: Homecoming, recorded $334,201,140.
Thor: Ragnarok, recorded $314,000,273. Despicable Me 3, made $264,624,300; and Justice League made $ 2228,135,786.
The question to be asked at this point is what are the elements of success that makes cinema production boom in a country versus another. Nizar Hegazy, Managing Director of Cinema.com explains this point by saying that it is the independent production houses that are in control of cinema production in the United States; studios like Marvel, DC, Paramount, Warner Bros, Universal and Fox, these studios are the ones that bear the headache of financing the American movies industry with small yet unclear subsides from the US government all lie under incentives to show sensitive entities like the US Army & The CIA looks great to the world.
Nizar explains “ The success of Hollywood as a main cinema production destination is a combination of many elements, like the using of top state of the art technologies in film making, diversified film types, as well as topics selected; in fact Americans are brilliant in choosing stories and events that can have global popularity focusing on the “American Hero” type of movies. They always leverage on the American dream and use their productions to promote the concept of a great free nation where the system and the constitution are the main belief all Americans share, ” said Nizar.
Furthermore the US is an economically strong country, and for the last 100 years it has been the main player on the global level and this is one of the reasons that made its cinema production a strong industry. In the US there is also a considerable room for freedom of expression, moviemakers can produce movies that criticise various aspects of the country and its politics, without being banned or sued. Movies that criticise the CIA and the Police for example have been produced in hundreds. Movies like 16 blocks, Training Day, The Departed, Bourn Trilogy, House of Cards, are good examples for this; the movies discussed corruption aspects in the different US institutions. Yet Snowden remains to be an odd case based on true events discussing one of the biggest scandals that ever hit the CIA in the near history as none of the US big production houses agreed to shoot the movie nor was the movie approved to shoot any scene in the USA!
As for the success of cinema in Bollywood; we will find that its success is due mainly to its geographical location, expanding their audience into many neighbouring Asian countries. On the other hand, their media productions concentrate on reviving the culture, historical characteristics of India or the dream of a poor person beating the slum life and finding his way to Money and Heroic Success “Mohamed Ramadan like movies”.
“This brings me to talk about an important point related to Egypt; if cinema producers in Egypt, knew how to make the best use of our historical heritage and the phenomenal history of pharaohs, this would have made a huge difference in the Egyptian cinema production; it would have helped in reviving tourism in such an old country like Egypt big time!” Nizar said.
Egypt has been also one of the countries that had a strong cinema production industry in the Middle East before experiencing social upheavals and unstable political conditions. When cinema started, it started in France, then the US followed by Egypt!
Nizar explains that the unstable political and economic conditions do affect the cinema production industry. And this is actually what took place in Egypt following 1952 revolution. Cinema started to take only one track. Furthermore the strict regulations of censorship and the monopoly over the production and distribution market is one of the core reasons for the deteriorating sate of movie production in Egypt.
It is to be noted that while a limited number of silent films were made in Egypt from 1896 Cairo’s film industry became a regional force with the coming of sound. Between 1930 and 1936, various small studios produced at least 44 feature films. In 1936, Studio Misr, financed by industrialist Talaat Harb, emerged as the leading Egyptian equivalent to Hollywood’s major studios, a role the company retained for three decades.
On the other side, Mohamed Al Haje, script writer and expert in cinema production in Egypt, noted that the main problems that face cinema production in Egypt, is actually a shared responsibility between several governmental entities involved.
“The main investors or cinema producers/investors that are allowed to work within the movie market are only the big producers; there is a kind of monopoly over the production market; furthermore the governmental entities do not facilitate the legal procedures related to movie production or permission for shooting; the strict censorship applied over Egyptian movies and the lack of freedom of expression are also other challenges,” said Mohamed.
Also there is a main problem in distribution within the movie market; and a lack of cinema houses in many governorates.
Related to El Sobky’s monopoly over the market, Mohamed points out that El Sobky is not actually a trend within the market, the type of movies he presents is actually a type that is present through history and even in the US. Tyler Perry, the American actor and filmmaker might be considered the American version of El Sobky.
“The lack of competition, poor production and the lack of cooperation of the governmental entities with small budget producers are the main reasons why El Sobky is present within the market,” said Mohamed.
Mohamed added: “El Sobky, presents a type of movies that speak to a certain level of the market and he reaches this social level by making sure that all his films are displayed in cinema theatres located in the Downtown area.
“Strict censorship must be lifted, and facilitating legal procedures for movie production and shooting is a must if we want to give a boost to cinema production in Egypt,”
It is to be noted that the Movies industry can serve Egypt’s interests in bringing huge revenues to the government, the industry can also reflect the needed social and cultural behaviour development through reflecting success stories that impact the population’s mental attitude towards working harder towards achieving their dreams and it can as well serve as a vehicle to promote tourism in Egypt. The industry just needs the attention and planning for it to achieve these targets.