Meet Ali Moeen, Founder of the First Cinema App in Pakistan

A decade ago, if you asked anyone about the state of cinemas in Pakistan, all you’d get in return was a groan.

Those were the days when Pakistan’s cinema culture was quite literally dying. Many people with families ended up staying home because the cinemas of the time were rowdy and ill-managed.

Things started improving after a few years with the arrival of well-built and state-of-the-art multiplexes. We got Atrium, Cinepax, Cinegold, Arena and many more in the subsequent years. People started thronging the theatres and that was a good sign.

It was in 2013 that Ali Moeen, a Pakistani entrepreneur, got an idea to facilitate entertainment-starved Pakistanis and cinemas.

Ali is the mind behind Showtimes, Pakistan’s first app for cinema goers who wished to check the movie schedule and book a ticket online at select theatres.

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A resident of Islamabad, Ali graduated from the University of Arkansas in 2003 with a BSBA in MIS, and worked in the US till 2006. He is now based in Pakistan.

We sat down with him for an interview, and heard his thoughts about Pakistani cinema, his app’s success and of course, his favorite movie of all time while we were at it.

Q: Lets start with the most important question. What made you come up with Showtimes?

I thought of Showtimes when The Dark Knight came out. I went to the arena in Bahria town in Pindi but the show had already started so I drove to the next closest cinema, CineGold. Sadly, I missed the show there too. So I went to the only remaining cinema in Pindi that was Cinepax, and missed the show there as well.

I ended up spending almost 2.5 hours on the road simply because there was no way to find out movie schedules. I thought it was about time we had a service where people could at the very least get access to consolidated movie schedules.

That was how I came up with the idea of Showtimes in 2013.

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Q: 2013 was three years ago. Can you tell us how far has Showtimes come along since then?

Since the apps were first launched, we have a little over 160,000 downloads and more than 2.5 million sessions (the number of times users have used the app).

69% of our downloads have been on iOS and 31% on Android. Our average session time is close to 1 minute and 45 seconds.

Q: Those are some impressive numbers. Speaking of which, can you tell us which Pakistani cinemas and which movies did well with Showtimes users recently?

I have listed some metrics for the last quarter. You’ll see that Indian movies are clearly the preferred choice over Hollywood movies. In a lot of smaller cities, such as Sialkot, Gujrat, Gujranwala, etc, Hollywood movies are played in Urdu since most cinema goers in these areas are not well versed in English.

Showtimes Pakistan’s Users by City:

Lahore 53.6%
Karachi 21.9%
Islamabad/Rawalpindi 18.5%
Multan 1.4%
Gujranwala 1.3%
Other 3.4%

Top 10 Cinemas:

1 Cinepax Fortress
2 Nueplex Cinema
3 Cinestar Cinema
4 Centaurus Cineplex
5 Super Cinema Vouge Towers
6 Atrium Cinema
7 Cinestar Xinhua Mall
8 Imperial Cinemas
9 Cinepax Lake City
10 Cinegold Plex Rwp

Top 10 Movies:

1 Sultan
2 Fan
3 Captain America: Civil War
4 The Jungle Book
5 Housefull 3
6 Maalik
7 Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
8 X-Men: Apocalypse
9 The Conjuring 2
10 Mah e Mir

 

Q: Pretty impressive. As the maker behind what is probably the most oldest movie schedule app in Pakistan, what are your all-time favorite flicks?

It’s hard to pick my favorite all time movie. If I had to pick I would go with the first 2 Godfather movies.

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Q: As Don Corleone from the Godfather would say, it’s just business! Ali, as we wind up this interview, can you share your thoughts about the cinema culture in Pakistan?

The cinema culture in Pakistan is developing slowly. New cinemas are coming up every few months and more and more people are starting to enjoy the cinema experience. This has encouraged local film makers to make more movies since they now have access to a larger audience.  We’ve also come a long way in terms of how people watch movies.

It wasn’t too long ago when you just couldn’t go watch a movie with your family because of how people could behave at cinemas. With newer cinemas and stricter measures by the staff there, the overall cinema experience is now much better for movie enthusiasts. Another major change is how fast newer movies come to Pakistani cinemas. A lot of times we get movies the same day as their international releases.

Q: A word for fellow Pakistani entrepreneurs out there?

My advice to young entrepreneurs – be passionate about what you do, be honest, look for mentors and don’t be afraid to fail. Above all, never compromise on quality.

We wish Ali Moeen and the Showtimes team all the best for the future. You can also check out the Showtimes apps here – Android / iOS

Samir heads the sponsored content department at ProPakistani. He also looks after the Life section.


  • IrfanAmir

    whats so special?

    • Aamir Shahzad

      The idea!

      Can you share if you have done anything special?

      • IrfanAmir

        Haiin???? The idea is special?? wow!! amazing idea :p

        • Aamir Shahzad

          you don’t a have shit to defend yourself…

          • IrfanAmir

            you can read in my comment below.. If you like the IDEA go ahead.. i am not here to convince you

    • Humayun

      its just an app they aren’t presenting it on TEDx

      • Aamir Shahzad

        Gotcha! Mark Zuckerberg

    • Chacha Ramzan

      Mehnat Kar Hassad Na Kar.
      Betay ?

      • IrfanAmir

        I have developed apps for chain of restaurants in HK, Boat trading companies in HK, Rugby club in USA, and many others. These projects were good enough but I do not think these were special. Right now working on app using Augmented Reality and AI. That is something special I think.
        I just want Pakistani developers to raise their level. Website k concept ko app mein convert krna is NOTHING SPECIAL!!

        • Hassan

          No offense buddy but there’s a difference offering app development services to restaurants, rugby clubs, etc. and conceiving an app that offers a service unique to a country. This app offers a service that was otherwise not available in Pakistan i.e. access to schedules and ticket purchasing. It’s no different than say a Food Panda albeit targeting a different niche, even if its not nearly as big as them.

          • IrfanAmir

            just a website in form of app for me..

  • Bil

    Been using this app since a while now. New updates are really good but imo there should be a way to buy tickets directly through your debit/card. Currently, tickets are delivered at your place through a service for whic there are extra charges. Other then that , outstanding app and has never let me down !

  • nice work done

  • Aamir Shahzad

    Cool app… great idea :):)

  • Ahsen

    ALLAH (SWT) hidayat dain.
    Nothing positive in this idea.

    • Yasir Saeed

      if you have a positive idea, can you please come up and share it? Na kaam karna, aur naa hi kisi ko karney dena..

      • KMQ

        Yasir Bhai, I guess Ahsen bhai religious point of view se keh rahe they.

        • Yasir Saeed

          us mutabiq to music, internet per website surfing, facebook aur YEH article parhna bhi jaizz nahi. I mean seriously look at his idiotic religious views. Bhai agar acha nahi kehna to KHUD koi acha sa plan batado jo halal ho?
          Ridiculous!

          • KMQ

            Budi baat Yasir bhai, Ahsen bhai ka apna point of view hai aur aapka apna and we should respect everyone’s point of view.

            • Yasir Saeed

              i respect everyones views but the problem is one should come up with a justification. if ahsen saheb cannot justify his view he should not speak or come up with a better app, or solution to a problem

              • KMQ

                Theek hai jaisi aapki marzi, behas se koi faida nahi…

              • ISB_KULFI

                Looks like you cannot tolerate opinions very well. He said nothing wrong. NO justification is required on his part. Learn some tolerance!

          • Ishtiaq

            Abay jahil, us k tu peechay par gaya hai jis ne kaha k khuda usko hidayat de. Aur tu khode keh raha hai “idiotic religious views”. Tu kis religion se taluk rakhta hai? Shakal pe dhutkaar par rahi ho na tou banda baat kuch achi kar leta hai. Aur jaisi bhangiyon wali teri shakal hai waisi hi bhangiyon wali baatien.

            • ops

              “Shakal pe dhutkaar par rahi” just a minute. stop right here. Do you even remotely know that his shakal is Allah’s creation? Religious fanatics like you are the reason we have liberal fascists like him, and perhaps vice versa.

              • Ishtiaq

                mainey usko bilkul sahi kaha hai k jab shakal achi na ho tou banda baat achi kar leta hai. aur hero ban’ney se pehley us k alfaaz dekho tum. insaan acha bura ho sakta hai, woh insaan ko nahi religion ko bura bhala keh raha hai. bhoonkny se pehley thora ghor kar lia karo. hope tumhain urdu samjh aati hogi. warna main translation kar dunga english main.

      • Ahsen

        Bhai personal hona wali tu koi baat nahi, dua ki ha aur raaya di ha.
        Bhai kuch asa b tu ho sakta tha jis sa logon ka bhala ho, log educate hon, ya lifestyle ma behtari aya.
        hollywood, bollywood, lollywood dakhna sa kon si behtari aya gi…?

        Wasa ma apna nam ka sath apna ideas ki tashkheer ka leya comment nahi karta .

        • Yasir Saeed

          the point is. you are telling him what he did is wrong. look at his efforts. he had made an ios and android app for the first time in pakistan for cinemas. accept it, it is a business now.

          Unforutnately if you have a better idea, please come up with it or i request you to kindly avoid declaring others haram

          • Junaid

            @disqus_RiZs2TnqRB:disqus ! We are just giving our own views, why are you getting tempered. Anyway, you’re right too that its everyone’s own point of view and is business, but @imahsen:disqus is right too and is pointing him/everyone in the right direction. What good is a time spent on movies/music? We appreciate his hard work, but if this hard work was spent on positive things (Islamic point of view) it would be much appreciated here and hereafter.

            Also, you’re provoking Ahsen to come with a better idea because he just gave negative review about the idea/app. Well, everyone has to give review doesn’t mean the negative reviewers should come with a better idea. If you could please give me your play-store account link and I’ll check your reviews. For each negative review on any app, did you come with a better idea and worked on it?

            What I am trying to say is to let others talk their views, is that too hard?

        • IrfanAmir

          Good movies can teach you a lot!! lekin aisi movies cinema mein beth k dekhny ka maza nhi aata.. Cinema is for entertainment.

    • Chacha Ramzan

      Kudkush Molvi Apney Baatain Sunaney Aa Gay..
      Bhai Halwa Khao Shoor Na Machao!!

    • Waseem Anjum

      Agree

  • ayhmdnowaz

    Have been using this app since its launch.

  • Khalid Yaldram

    .vali aur nakami qoom jis ka kam sirf cinema ma ja kar movies dekha ha just same like idiot Indian people…..

    • KMQ

      Bhai India main tu buhat buda haal hai, movies ka craze itna hai ke jo gareeb log hain woh khana nahi khaenge but movie dekhna zarrori hai.

      Allah pak is tarah ke craze se qaum ko bachae…

    • Chacha Ramzan

      Kash App Ka Pass Be Itnay Passay Hotay Ka App Cinema Main Ja Kar Movie Dekh Saktay.
      Par Ek Movie Ki Ticket Se To Apka Poray Week Ka Rooti Pani Chalta Ha.
      Becharay ?

      • Ishtiaq

        us k pass itney paisey hain k tujh jaisey 2 chaar chachay us k ghar pe Naukar hain. is liye apni okaat main reh k baat kar.

        • Chacha Ramzan

          Tu Uska Beta Ha Kya???
          Wesay Ishtiaq Meray Driver Ka Name Ha, Khootay!!

          • Ishtiaq

            Main uska Bhai hun, aur tujh jaise tuchon se main hi deal karta hun. Teri cycle khareedney ki okaat nahi tou driver ghada gari ka hoga jo tujhe kaam pe laata le jata hoga. Chuchu k murabay.

  • Saba

    Why don’t you interview any one who has developed an Islamic app??

    • Chacha Ramzan

      Aur Aa Gai Saray Molvi Kudkush Hamla Karney…
      Bibi Halwa Khao Shoor Na Machao!!

      • Hassan Nasir

        Halwa lagta hai aapkay gallay mein phans gaya hai…Better change your name as per your views…

  • iceman

    In “2016,” a guy who developed an app that tells you “showtimes” for “movies” is actually being “interviewed.” Ahsan gives his opinion (Jazak Allah) and Yasir says, “idiotic Religious views.” Bigoted much.

    Kudos to Saba for making a very valid point (Jazak Allah).

    Regards.

  • Dost

    Ahsen bhai said the right thing. Some wonder around on a road for 2.5 hours for a movie that will only harm us in this world and here after, but have we ever thought aur done this, that if we miss a jamat(prayer, salaat) in one mosque, we try to get in another mosque and then another mosque. Its not compulsory that if someone is stopping you from something wrong, you start asking him/her for a better idea, one should use his/her brains too. Making an islamic app is 100% halal/better than cinema thing.

  • Kazim

    Initiator Ali Moeen. Good Going. Well Done.

  • Mudassar Adnan

    Nice App!