SEVEN SUMMERS: As July ends some of cinema's biggest names are sitting on the edge of their seats, as it were, anxiously awaiting news of how their newly released films are faring at the box office. Who is in the film that will make the most money? Who, as a consequence, can demand even more for their next film?
It is seven years since the new generation of mainly comedy stars began to make their mark, and the competition has now become rabid. Mohamed Saad, who shot to stardom two years ago playing the title role in El-Limbi, is playing two characters in his new film Okal. It had grossed LE10.5 million by the end of its second week, and two weeks beyond that is still going strong.
Veteran comedy star Adel Imam is also back with a vengeance, with audiences flocking to see Aris min Giha Amniya (A Groom from Security), released last week: the appeal, perhaps, is to a generation that prefers family comedy, older, perhaps, than the adolescents targeted by the new generation of comedians.
This week yet another comedy will be released -- Ghabi Minuh Fih (Dumb in Himself) starring Hani Ramzi. The film was written by Ahmed Abdallah, responsible for the earliest hit Al-Nazer (The Principal), with the late Alaa Walieddin, and El-Limbi.
Ghabi seems to be a spin on Jim Carrie's Dumb and Dumber, and is directed by Adel Imam's son Rami. And after six weeks in the cinemas Khalti Faransa (Auntie Faransa), starring Abla Kamel in the title role and Mona Zaki in her first comedy role since Se'idi fil Gamma Al-Amrikiya (An Upper Egyptian at the American University), and the Ahmed El-Saqqa action vehicle Tito, directed by Tareq El-Erian, are still pulling in the crowds. By the end of their fourth week the films box office takes were LE4.8 million and LE8.6 million, respectively.
Out of the running are Osama Fawzi's controversial Bahib Al-Sima (I Love Cinema), which incurred the wrath of some Coptic clergymen during its five week stay in the cinemas -- a case has been filed with the public prosecutor -- and singer Ruby's vehicle Sabaa Warqat Kutshina (Seven Playing Cards) produced, written and directed by Sherif Sabri, which faced censorship obstacles before being universally damned by the critics.
Next week will also see the release of the Mohamed Heneidi vehicle Fool Al-Seen Al-Azim (The Great Bean of China), the actor's first collaboration with director Sherif Arafa since he shot to stardom. Heneidi, whose position as the leading box office comedy star was challenged by the Arafa- directed Walieddin vehicles, and then by Saad, has upped the ante in the box office battle by opting for a cut of the box office receipts rather than a fixed fee.
So who is the new king of comedy? In months time it will be clear whether Adel Imam, whose first films were released a quarter of a century ago, has stood the test of time or whether the new generation of comedies, whose coming of age could be said to date from the release of the Mohamed Heneidi vehicle Se'idi in 1997, have finally usurped the emperor's clothes.