–Disney India refuses to sell distribution rights to Pakistan amid tensions
LAHORE: Marvel’s much awaited ‘Captain Marvel’ will not be releasing in Pakistan, informed sources told Pakistan Today on Thursday.
The primary reason being cited by various exhibitors (local cinemas) is escalation of tensions with India. Marvel is a wholly owned subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company. Disney’s regional offices are based in India.
Sources claim that Eveready Pictures, the main distributor for Walt Disney Pictures in Pakistan, has been unable to negotiate with representatives of Disney India to secure distribution rights for ‘Captain Marvel’.
“Disney India has simply refused to sell the distribution right to the movie. It was supposed to release last week,” a source said.
Exhibitors are now worried that future Marvel/Disney titles might also meet a similar fate.
“We are already facing a drastic fall in revenue due to the ban on Indian films. If big ticket titles from Marvel also stop showing here, cinemas will start closing down,” Shan Lashari, the owner of Sozo World cinema, told Pakistan Today.
Another cinema owner suggested that the Indian issue is just part of the problem; distributors here having learnt from the failure of ‘Wonder Woman’ on Pakistani screens (released in 2017) did not push too hard for ‘Captain Marvel’ which is also a female protagonist standalone film.
Avengers: Endgame which marks the conclusion of Marvel Universe’s third phase is set for release in April and is a highly anticipated movie in Pakistan, especially for content-starved exhibitors who know how well Marvel films do at the box office here. Therefore in order to ensure its release, local exhibitors and distributors have bypassed Disney India and lodged multiple complaints with Walt Disney in the US.
Hoping that the situation improves, Ali Chaudhry, owner of IMAX cinema, said, “We are confident that Disney will see the importance of its footprint in Pakistan and although small, Pakistan’s contribution to its bottom line cannot be ignored. Future IMAX titles like Captain Marvel and other Disney films will release here.”
Multiple phone calls were made to Disney India for comment but there was no response. Emails for the same bounced back.
Following the Pulwama attack on February 14, IAF (Indian Air Force) jets violated Pakistani airspace into Balakot to strike alleged militant hideouts. PAF (Pakistan Air Force) subsequently responded to Indian aggression resulting in a dogfight that saw an Indian MiG-21 being downed and its pilot taken prisoner only to be released three days later as a goodwill gesture. Relations with India are at its lowest point in recent history as a result.