Saudi Arabia's 35-year Cinema Ban to end with "Black Panther"


The "Black Panther" will put an end to Saudi Arabia's 35-year ban on movie theaters later this month, according to new reports.

The agreement between AMC and Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund aims to open 50 to 100 theaters in 25 Saudi Arabian cities by the year 2030, including 30-40 within the next five years.

Saudi Arabia's last cinemas shuttered in the 1970s due to powerful clerics.

That is the ambitious plan for economic and social reform by the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

As part of this plan, the kingdom's Ministry of Culture and Information agreed to issue licenses for cinemas on December 11, 2017. Some issues, like whether or not men and women can sit together and which movies will be permitted, are still being worked out, though AMC CEO Adam Aron said he does not expect the theaters will be segregated.

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AMC's first cinema will be located in the King Abdullah Financial District in a building originally meant to be a symphony concert hall, AMC Chief Executive Adam Aron said in an interview. The venue seats 600 across orchestra and balcony levels, and comes with marble bathrooms.

AMC will be working alongside the government's Development and Investment Entertainment Company, a subsidiary of Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth Public Investment Fund (PIF). "It's a dramatic building". The move to allow movie theaters to open up a local market with annual ticket sales of up to $1bn is what makes other leading movie chains keen to enter as the largest market in the Gulf region.

With a population over 32 million people, the Kingdom constitutes the largest market in the Arab Gulf region and could constitute a Dollars $1 billion movie market.

As the government put it, residents of Saudi Arabia annually spend about $20 billion on trips overseas, of which $5.6 billion account for entertainment. 'Major Hollywood studios are showing films all over the Middle East'.