Economy, Business And Markets

Movie Industry Yearns for Private Investment

Movie Industry Yearns for Private InvestmentMovie Industry Yearns for Private Investment

Iranian cinema got off to a flying start this year, as several movies were lucky to attract mass audiences, grossing over 10 billion rials each ($2.56 million at market exchange rates).

Official figures show this year’s box office takings for the year-to-date have been five times more than that of last year (March 2015-16). But do such exciting developments encourage further investments in the film industry? Is film production in Iran’s cinema a good investment strategy?

“The state of cinema in Iran, like everywhere else, depends on different variables,” said Mohammad Ali Sajjadi, film director and producer, adding that “from improvement of cinema infrastructure to changes in screening schedule to expansion of movie theaters might discourage investors and producers”.

He believes cinema and cultural products have no role to play in government spending.

“The maximum expenditure on Iran’s cinema during one year equals the money spent on construction of two towers in Tehran,” he said.

Last year, the government earmarked around $50.63 million for the cinema in the budget bill. The figure was minimal, yet it showed a 50% increase compared to a year before.

“Many individuals, institutions and industries are willing to invest in movie-making. In fact, there are producers with links to public organizations who turn profits during the production stage. They don’t care if the movie they make turns out to be a flop or a blockbuster. Once they attract the investment, they set aside 30% of the investment for themselves and put together the project with the remaining budget,” Sajjadi told the Persian weekly Tejarat-e Farda.

Despite the measures taken to build new movie theaters, renovate old ones and equip old halls with modern technology, there are still cities with no cinema halls or some with minimum facilities.

The Iranian director believes private sector investment will help stimulate the industry.

“Private investors are welcome not only in filmmaking, but also in promotion of infrastructures like opening movie theaters,” he said.   

“Many countries have gone places by securing domestic and foreign investments,” said director general for planning, budget and administrative overhaul of the Cinema Organization of Iran, Amirhossein Alamolhoda.

“Once governments declare their willingness to attract investment, they trim cumbersome rules and regulations instead of placing hurdles in the way of investments through restrictive bylaws. They resolve all the issues to revive their film industry,” he said.

“The parliament, executive and judiciary branches of the government and oversight bodies should be open to private sector involvement for the development of infrastructures, particularly cinema-building.”

Alamolhoda noted that billions of rials should be spent for the development of infrastructures, so there is no option but to absorb private sector money.


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