‘Joyland,’ Pakistan’s Oscar Entry, Thrives at French Box Office and Prepares for International Rollout Following Sundance (EXCLUSIVE)

Saim Sadiq’s “Joyland,” a tale of sexual revolution which marked the first Pakistani film to be selected in Cannes and shortlisted by the Oscars, is set to travel around the world following its U.S. premiere at Sundance.

The film is currently playing in theaters in France, where it’s being distributed by Condor and has already grossed over $1 million, a record-breaking box office score for a Pakistani movie.

Championed internationally by Film Constellation, a London- and Paris-based finance, production and sales company, “Joyland” will next come out theatrically in the U.K. and Ireland (Studio Soho), New Zealand (Madman), Spain (Surtsey/Filmin), India (PVR), BeNeLux (September), Scandinavia (Njuta), Germany and Austria (Filmperlen/Filmladen), Switzerland (Trigon), Greece (Cinobo), Portugal (Nos Audiovisuais), Former Yugoslavia (MCF), Turkey (Mars), Indonesia (Falcon), South Korea (Choix) and Taiwan (Filmware).

The film has been acquired by HBO in Eastern Europe, with Latin America, Israel and Italy currently in negotiation. Oscilloscope is planning a traditional theatrical release for the film in the U.S. later this year. It’s playing in the Spotlight section at Sundance.

The performance of “Joyland” in France is encouraging considering how volatile the theatrical market currently is.

“To see our labor of love receiving the immense support and critical acclaim of the industry, and then have that translated to global audiences across theaters around the world — it’s been an extraordinary journey I couldn’t have imagined,” said Sadiq. “Having our film approach the $1 million mark in France is truly momentous!”

Following up on its 2019 Venice and SXSW winner “Darling,” “Joyland” tells the story of a man raised in a conservative patriarchal family who falls in love with a transsexual starlet he met at an erotic dance theater. Described as both a “boundary-breaker” and “crowdpleaser” by Guy Lodge in his Variety review, the movie has garnered support from a flurry of high-profile personalities, including actor Riz Ahmed and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai, who have joined as executive producers, while filmmakers and stars such as Edgar Wright, Sean Baker, Gael García Bernal and Priyanka Chopra have praised the movie on social media.

Fabien Westerhoff, Film Constellation founder and president, concurred: “In a fragmented and very competitive indie film market, ‘Joyland’ has proven to be an audience-pleaser, transforming its critical and awards run into bums on seats in a significant way.”

Westerhoff added that the team was “thankful for the ambition behind all our distributors and their upcoming releases.”

Although it represents Pakistan in the Oscar race, the movie initially had its theatrical release banned by the local government days before its Nov. 18 scheduled rollout in the country. Amid some backlash criticizing the ban, the Censor Board’s decision was finally overturned, allowing the movie to come out.

Since winning the Un Certain Regard jury prize and Queer Palm at Cannes, the movie played at most major festivals, including Toronto and BFI LFF, where it won a special mention. The film has also been nominated for best international film at the Independent Spirit Awards and was recently shortlisted for the Oscars’ best international feature film category.

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