Mehran Modiri

Mehran Modiri’s ‘5 PM’ smashes Box Office

Financial Tribune- The comedy ‘5 PM’ written and directed by comedian, actor, director and musician Mehran Modiri set some new records at the box office on its opening day.

Selling over 7 billion rials ($185,000) on Friday in 50 cinemas, the movie crossed the previous record-holder ‘Salaam Mumbai’ by Qorban Mohammadpour, which took in $155,000 on its first screening day last year.

The high Friday sale was also the highest for a single day recorded for any movie in Iran’s cinema history.

Two other records which were also broken by the film include online ticket sale, over 3 billion rials ($80,000), and the number of showings in one day. Modiri’s movie had 40 showings in Kourosh Cineplex (which has 14 cinemas) in Tehran on Friday.

According to local news outlets, ‘5 PM’ is showing in 28 cinemas in Tehran and 22 in other cities. More cinemas are adding the film to their schedule.

The film screening started as early as 7 am and continued till after midnight. Modiri attended different showings of his film at Kourosh Cineplex in west of the capital as well as Qods Cinema in central Tehran and watched the film together with the public.

Criticizing Social Deviations

Running for 95 minutes, the social comedy tells the story of a lawyer (played by Siamak Ansari) in Tehran from 7 am to 5 pm. He needs to go to the bank before 5 pm, to pay an installment and save his home from being seized by the bank.

During the day, he faces so many incidents that make up the story and each one reflects social problems and anomalies, “The film is based on social issues which we encounter every day but may not take them seriously as they seem normal to us,” Modiri said about the story. The incidents in the film cover various subjects starting from the poor public transport system to problems in the hospitals.

Siamak Ansari, Modiri’s long-time collaborator, plays the main role similar to his previous works with Modiri. Amir Jafari, Azadeh Samadi, Rasoul Najafian and Negin Motazedi are the other main actors.

High public reception was expected by industry watchers because ‘5 PM’ is Modiri’s first feature film after his 17 TV serials (all comedies), two talk shows and five home-entertainment series (for home video network, released on DVD).

Working for 24 years in the field, he is now considered to be the leading artist in social satire, who has a large number of fans. In his works, he has usually addressed people’s bad attitudes and negative characteristics and also criticized officials for the social deficiencies.

Modiri, 50, started his artistic career as a teenager and acted in local plays. Later he entered national radio and TV in 1993, actively writing scripts for and participating in various IRIB comedy skits.

He achieved real stardom with his series ‘Pavarchin’ (Tiptoeing), in which he won numerous awards for directing and starring in the lead role. ‘Noghtechin’ (Ellipsis), ‘Jayezeye Bozorg’ (The Grand Prize), ‘Shabhaye Barareh’ (Nights of Barareh), ‘Ghahveye Talkh’ (Bitter Coffee), ‘Shukhi Kardam’ (I’m Just Kidding) and ‘Dar Hashiyeh’ (At the Margin) are other series he directed.

He has acted in six feature films and won two awards. Modiri also is a singer of pop and folk music and has released two albums and sung for his TV series.

Setting New Records

If the same reception continues until the end of showing of ‘5 PM’ (for at least 10 weeks), it can break the record of Iran’s all-time bestseller film and even get the title of the movie with the highest number of audiences in Tehran.

Currently ‘Patrol 2’ directed by Saeid Soheili is bestseller in the country with a total sale of 199 billion rials ($5.3 million).

Masoud Dehnamaki’s ‘The Exiled 2’ also holds the record for the highest number of viewers with a total number of 2.1 million people.

‘The Exiled 2’ was screened in 2009 and attracted 2.1 million filmgoers in Tehran and its overall number of audiences across the country was 4.7 million people.

However, given the inflation rate (the average price of tickets is now $2 which is four times higher than eight years ago), if ‘5 PM’ wants to beat the record, it must sell more than 160 billion rials in Tehran and 350 billion rials across the country.

It is a tall order because ‘Patrol 2’, which is Iran’s bestseller at the box office, has had almost 3 million viewers; However, Modiri’s film could well surprise most observers in the comings days and weeks as it did on the opening day.