Cinema ban in Saudi Arabia has been lifted which means its citizens and residents can now enjoy watching films and it is expected to attract investments in entertainment facilities.
Black Panther is the first film to be screened
Before the cinema shutdown in 1979, films screened were mainly in Turkish, Hindi or Egyptian. On April 18th, Marvel Cinematic Universe’s 18th film, Black Panther will be the first film to screen at the AMC Theatre in Riyadh with a capacity of 620 seats. The film has been a revolution too for breaking barriers in pop culture, giving the limelight to a black superhero after the likes of Falcon and Blade.
Welcome to world of movies #SaudiArabia …
As it prepares for first public cinema opening in 35 years with a screening of #BlackPanther in Riyadh tonight
Grand Mosque seizure led to the closure of cinemas
Due to an attack on the Grand Mosque at Mecca in 1979, the government ordered all cinemas and theatres to shut down. Before the cinema ban was lifted, there was only one cinema by IMAX in Khobar used for science exhibitions and for screening documentaries during non-prayer timings.
AMC Theatres plans to expand operations across Saudi Arabia
Theatre giant AMC is the largest cinema chain, with 7,263 operational screens and 636 operational theatres. It was acquired by China’s Wanda group in 2012 for USD 2.6 billion. They plan to expand operations to 15 cities with 40 screens within five years and expand to 25 cities with up to 100 screens by 2030.
Cinema will contribute to Vision 2030
Built on three themes: ‘Vibrant society’, ‘Thriving economy’ and ‘An ambitious nation’, Saudi Arabia aims for ‘a more diverse and sustainable economy’ and to connect Africa, Asia and Europe, according to its official website. The ambitious vision was created by Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, Chairman of the Council of Economic and Development Affairs.
Since 14 years, Saudi Arabia has gradually emerged in the cinema map of the Arab world. The first film made in Saudi Arabia was the 2004 film ‘Dhilal al Sammt’ and since then, there have been films like ‘Keif-Al-Hal?’ which was the first big-budget feature film and went on to be screened across 17 film festivals worldwide. The 2013 film ‘Wadjda’ was a game changer because it the first feature film to be entirely shot in Saudi Arabia and won at prestigious film festivals like Venice Film Festival, Dubai International Film Festival and Rotterdam International Film Festival.