Dubai: Typically Ramadan season sees a rise in soap opera and cinema viewership in the Arab world. But experts say this Ramadan may be different. Many factors could contribute to a slump in their viewership because of the Arab Spring.
Among the chief reasons for this is the waning interest of ordinary people in the mundane shows offered on TV and cinema which, critics say, is much less exciting than real life events.
"People have stopped going to cinemas because they are watching dramatic stories unfold in real life, which are more surprising and sarcastic than [what] films can offer," Egyptian critic Mahmoud Kassem told Gulf News.
"There are corruption cases that prove more dramatic than [what] script writers can offer," he added.
"If I want to hear a bizarre story, I can go to the Liberation Square tens of metres away from me and listen to odd stories from the people," he said.
The Egyptian revolution earlier this year not only led to the ousting of former president Hosni Mubarak's regime, but also to fundamental changes in the country's film industry.
Egypt's movie and TV industry, which gained recognition as the pillar of Arab region's entertainment world, was affected by the revolution and its aftermath.
Artistes' fees were reduced as a result of shrinking offers, and production slowed down because of the continuing political and social instability. The fall of cinema revenues coupled with a drop in viewer ratings is behind the diminished status of many "stars", critics and several press reports said.
Several comedians including Adel Imam, Mohammad Huneida, Ahmad Rizq and Amr Sa'ad have cut their fees.
For example, Huneida halved his fees from 25 million Egyptian pounds (Dh15.41 million) to 15 million pounds. Also, Rizq agreed to receive 3 million pounds after his fees reached 5 million. Several female stars have also agreed to cut their fees. They include Elham Shaheen, Laila Olwi and Hanan Turk.
Cutting the fees, Kassem strongly believed, came for two reasons; to salvage Egyptian drama from an imminent blow and to save their own careers.
"They [stars] want to live. They used to take huge amounts of money. But these numbers don't exist any more in 2011."