Egyptian cinemas empty as people commiserate with Palestine

Kadry Al-Haggar
6 Min Read

As the streets of Cairo are filled with people protesting against Israeli aggression in Palestine, the movie theaters are left deserted and silent. Despite the release of several new films, such as “Voy! Voy! Voy!” starring Nelly Karim and Mohamed Farrag, and “The Next Thursday” starring Amr Abdel Galil, May Kassab, and Hossam Dagher, the box office is hardly seeing any customers. This situation is not limited to Cairo but extends to all movie theaters throughout Egypt.

The ticket sellers attribute this phenomenon to the solidarity of the Egyptian people with their brothers and sisters in Palestine, who are suffering from the brutal bombardment of the Israeli forces. They say that the Egyptians feel ashamed to enjoy themselves while the Palestinians are living in fear and pain. They also point out that this decline in cinema attendance started on 7 October, the day when the Israeli attacks on Gaza started. This is in contrast to the previous period when the cinemas were recovering from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, which had forced them to close for several months.

We surveyed to verify this claim and to avoid any exaggeration. We asked a sample of people who used to go to the movies regularly about their reasons for not going anymore. The majority of them confirmed that they stopped going to the movies out of respect and sympathy for the Palestinian cause. They also said that they preferred to spend their money on donations and relief campaigns for the Palestinians, rather than on entertainment. They expressed their hope that the situation in Palestine would improve soon and that peace and justice would prevail.

These are the results of our research, which show the depth of the Egyptian-Palestinian bond and the strength of the Egyptian conscience.

Egyptian Box Office in October

Blumondo starring Hassan El-Raddad (EGP 207,332)

Voy! Voy! Voy! starring Mohamed Farrag (EGP 79,947)

Wesh Fi Wesh starring Amina Khalil (EGP 74,599)

Agent Zero starring Akram Hosni (EGP 62,461)

The Next Thursday starring Amr Abdel Galil (EGP 29,083) 

Hassan Al-Masry starring Ahmed Hatem (EGP 3,316) 

The House of the Ruby’s starring Karim Abdel Aziz (EGP 3,906)

Children of Harem Karim starring Mostafa Amar (EGP 2,118)

The Boogeyman starring Amir Karara: (EGP 1,557) 

Sukar starring Magda Zaki (EGP 721) 

The situation is uncertain 

Ahmed Hadi, the director of a famous cinema in Giza, says that the current situation of the movie theaters is uncertain. He explains that there are no big films in the market right now and that the start of the academic year and the winter season usually affect the demand for cinema. He adds that the real test will be during the New Year and Christmas holidays when the cinemas usually offer huge films and attract a large audience. He hopes that the injustice against the people of Gaza will end soon and that God will protect them.

Noticeable effect

Mohamed Salem, the director of a cinema in Cairo, agrees that there is a noticeable effect of the Gaza war on cinema attendance. He says that many people are avoiding entertainment and pleasure out of grief and solidarity with their brothers and sisters in Palestine, who are facing daily massacres by the Israeli forces. He points out that Egypt is the only country that canceled two major cultural festivals this year, the Arab Music Festival and the Cairo International Film Festival, in support of the Palestinian cause. He concludes that Egyptian cinema revenues are negatively affected by the war.

The Egyptians are depressed

Mahmoud Qassem, a film critic, also confirms that the Gaza war is affecting the mood and psychology of the majority of the Egyptians, who are sad and hurt by what is happening to the Palestinians. He says that many people are not in the mood for fun and entertainment and that they prefer to donate and help the Palestinians instead. He says that the current films in the cinemas are not attracting many viewers, regardless of their quality. He compares the situation to the time of the coronavirus pandemic when the cinemas were closed for several months. He hopes that the war will end soon and that life will return to normal.

People of duty

Kamal Ramzy, a film critic, says that the Egyptians are people of duty, who respect and share the grief of their neighbors. He says that this affects the movie theaters and the revenues of the films, as many people avoid entertainment and pleasure out of solidarity with the Palestinians. He says that this is what the producers have noticed and discussed in their recent meetings. He says that the Gaza war and the crimes committed against the children, women, and elderly are the main reasons for the low attendance of the cinema-goers. He prays that God will protect and support the Palestinians.

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