First commercial film to be shown in Saudi Arabia in more than 35 years
Hollywood blockbuster ‘Black Panther’ to debut on Wednesday evening in Riyadh cinema
“We are very happy to be part of this historic moment – the showing of the first commercial film in the Kingdom after more than 35 years – ” Dr. Awwad Alawwad, Saudi Minister of Culture and Information
RIYADH, April 18 (CIC) – The first public screening of a commercial film in more than 35 years in Saudi Arabia takes place on Wednesday evening in the capital Riyadh, in a historic move that ushers in the introduction of cinemas in the Kingdom this year.
Dr. Awwad Alawwad, the Saudi Minister of Culture and Information, will attend the screening of Hollywood blockbuster Black Panther at the King Abdullah Financial District (KAFD) in Riyadh, along with Adam Aron, CEO and President of AMC Entertainment. They will join a mixed crowd of hundreds of invitees, including diplomats and industry experts, to watch the 2018 American superhero film.
Earlier this month, the Saudi Ministry of Culture and Information announced that it granted the first cinema operating licence so that U.S. industry leader AMC Entertainment, the largest theatrical exhibitor in the world, can operate cinemas in Saudi Arabia. AMC will partner with Development and Investment Entertainment Company (DIEC), a wholly owned subsidiary of the Public Investment Fund (PIF). DIEC plans to invest up to SAR 10 billion in entertainment projects by 2030.
In a watershed decision in December, the Ministry of Culture and Information said commercial cinemas would be allowed to operate in the Kingdom from early 2018, for the first time in more than 35 years. The decision is part of the Kingdom’s social and economic reform program under Vision 2030, spearheaded by His Royal Highness Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
“We are very happy to be part of this historic moment – the showing of the first commercial film in the Kingdom after more than 35 years,” Dr Alawwad said in a statement after he toured the KAFD theatre on Tuesday to follow up on the preparations for the first film screening.
“I just inspected the venue and it looks great; everything is on track for the Wednesday evening film showing.
“I know for sure that Saudis are very eager to be able to watch their favourite films here in their own country, as now made possible by Vision 2030,” he said.
“This is a landmark moment in the transformation of Saudi Arabia into a more vibrant economy and society. None of this would be possible without the visionary leadership of His Royal Highness Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.”
A further three screens at KAFD’s theatre will open in the third quarter of 2018 and represent the beginning of a partnership that could see 40 or more AMC Cinemas open in the Kingdom over the next five years.
The move to allow movie theaters opens up a big domestic market, which could approach up to USD $1 billion in annual box office sales. Other major operators are keen to enter Saudi Arabia, where the majority of the population of 32 million people are under the age of 30, making it the largest potential market for movie-goers in the Arabian Gulf region.
Vision 2030 has established a goal of increasing annual Saudi spending on cultural and entertainment activities.
The Kingdom is set to have nearly 350 cinemas, with over 2,500 screens, by 2030