Tickets sold out in just 15 minutes for the first public screening of Hollywood blockbuster Black Panther at new theatre at Riyadh’s King Abdullah Financial District (KAFD)
The state-of-the-art cinema complex at KAFD will open three more screens by the third quarter of this year
RIYADH, 20 April 2018 – ‘Twas a full house on Friday night in the Saudi capital of Riyadh at the country’s first cinema as the first public screening of a commercial film in more than three decades took place.
A mixed crowd of hundreds of movie-lovers filed into the brand-new state-of-the-art movie theatre at King Abdullah Financial District (KAFD) in Riyadh to watch the Hollywood blockbuster, Black Panther, the world’s highest grossing film so far in 2018.
The initial public screening was preceded by much fanfare that included a gala screening on Wednesday for distinguished local and international guests, in particular industry specialists. It marked the first time in more than 35 years that a commercial film was screened publicly in the Kingdom. The Development and Investment Entertainment Company (DIEC), a wholly owned subsidiary of the Public Investment Fund (PIF), in collaboration with AMC Entertainment, a world-leading exhibitor, oversaw the Wednesday launch of the Kingdom’s first public cinema located at KAFD.
As part of Saudi Arabia’s social and economic reforms outlined in Vision 2030 and spearheaded by His Royal Highness Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the Ministry of Culture and Information announced the landmark decision in December to allow commercial cinemas to operate in the Kingdom from this year.
Commenting on Friday’s public showing, Dr. Awwad Alawwad, the Minister of Culture and Information, said, “Today is the first show for the public and the response has been overwhelming! This just goes to show how eager Saudis are to watch great films from around the world right here at home. They no longer have to travel outside the Kingdom to go to the movies.”
Dr Alawwad attended Wednesday’s gala along with Adam Aron, CEO and President of AMC Entertainment. Other prominent attendees included Princess Reema bint Bandar, President of the Saudi Federation of Mass Participation and Vice President for Planning and Development at the General Sport Authority; Yasir Al-Rumayyan, Chairman of PIF and Abdullah Al Dawood, Chairman of PIF-owned DIEC.
Plans call for opening about 350 cinemas representing 2,500 screens by 2030, generating an expected $1 billion in annual box office receipts and making the Kingdom the 11th largest theatrical exhibition market in the world. The growth of the exhibition sector is expected to create around 30,000 permanent jobs and some 130,000 temporary positions, by 2030.
The industry is regulated by the Saudi General Commission for Audiovisual Media (GCAM), which is working closely with film distributors and exhibitors to develop the market.
Adam Aron, CEO and President of AMC Entertainment, said, “To have the first public showtime sell out in 15 minutes is unshakable evidence of the passion and excitement for cinema-going in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It further convinces us what we already knew, that the future for AMC in Saudi Arabia is very bright.”
AMC plans to open three more screens at the KAFD location in the third quarter of 2018, marking the beginning of a partnership that could lead to 30 to 40 cinemas in approximately 15 cities in Saudi Arabia over the next five years, and 50 to 100 cinemas in about 25 Saudi cities by 2030. The partnership between DIEC and AMC Entertainment advances a key objective of Vision 2030 to grow the entertainment sector in the Kingdom. DIEC intends to invest up to SAR 10 billion in entertainment projects by 2030.