Left to right: Hand painted movie poster, Peshawar, Pakistan, 2006 (photo by Jim Henry); The Odeon Cinema, Lahore, Pakistan, 2009 (photo by Rahat Ali Dar for Los Angeles Times).

You've heard of Bollywood, Nollywood, and even Dollywood, but what about Lollywood? Based in Lahore, the second-largest city in Pakistan (and home to the U.S. Consulate), Lollywood produced more than 100 movies annually back in the 70s and 80s. Today, however, "Pakistani cinema has all but vanished," writes Alex Rodriguez in Los Angeles Times. Reportedly, the number of movie theaters in the country has declined from 1,100 in 1985 to just 120 today, and local film production has shrunk to fewer than a dozen movies each year. It's gotten so bad, the theater pictured above has been playing the same movie for three years. The same movie, and evidently not by popular demand!

Most of the usual suspects are blamed, with one that is unique to the country: "VCR, cable television, President Muhammad Zia ul-Haq's Islamization of Pakistani society, and finally DVD piracy." (Emphasis added.) While film industries have weathered changes in viewing habits, it appears that government edicts played a big role in the collapse of the industry: "Many cinemas were shut down, the rest were heavily taxed. New laws that required producers to have college degrees thinned the ranks of movie makers. The message Zia ul-Haq's government was sending to society was clear, [theater owner Jahanzaib] Baig says: 'We were being told that filmmaking was a vulgar and bad business to be in.'"

categories Movies, Cinematical