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Numbers perplex

Even as prod'n rises, piracy sends exhibs tumbling

How far, and fast, will Morocco’s box office fall?

Bedeviled by a DVD boom, satellite TV and piracy — though the Moroccan government is cracking down on DVD duplication outfits, says CCM director Nour-Eddine Sail — total admissions tumbled 56% from 10.8 million in 2002 to 4.8 million in 2005.

One solution to the plummet may be increasing the numbers of theaters, but new multiplexes will probably shutter older screens. “If the new Megarama in Marrakech insists on exclusive firstrun films, I’ll be run out of business,” says Mohamed Layadi, owner of the Marrakech’s Colisee.

Moroccan production levels are far healthier, especially compared to other Arab states. No features are made in Jordan and Saudi Arabia just bowed its first feature-length film, “How Are Things,” in October. Tunisia made five films in 2005, while Algeria saw a creditable eight releases.

Once the Arab pic powerhouse, Egypt’s production languished at 24 films in 2004. With Morocco, Lebanon is perhaps producing the most buzz: two features have been produced this year and a five are in production or post — a recent record.

MOROCCO STATS

  • Number of films produced: 10 (2004), 12 (2005), 16 (2006, produced or in post)

  • Total box office: $15.6 million (2002), $14.7 million (2003), $11.5 million, (2004), $8.4 million (2005)

  • Total admissions: 10.8 million (2002), 9.5 million (2003), 6.8 million (2004), 4.8 million (2005)

  • Market share by admission (through July 7): U.S., 32%; India, 30%, Morocco, 20%; Egypt, 5%; France, 3%.

  • Cinema screens (2005): 141

  • Moroccan box office top 10, 2006

(Through Oct.19, title, B.O)

1. “Marock,” $437,642

2. “La Symphonie Marocaine,” $225,167

3. “Les ailes brisees,” $147,035

4. “Heaven’s Doors,” $52,666

5. “Elle est diabetique et hypertendue et elle refuse toujours de crever,” $33,286

6. “Tilila,” $9,199

7. “Bouksasse Boutfounaste, $6,236

8. “Ici et la,” $6,153

9. “Tenja,” $5,702

10. “Les amours de Madj Mokhtar Soldi,” $4,005

Source: Centre Cinematographique Marocain (CCM), Egyptian Film Center, Jordanian Royal Film Commission, Lebanese Cinema Foundation, Tunisian Ministry of Culture

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