“Black Panther” is Set to Break Saudi Arabia’s 35-Year Cinema Ban

“Black Panther” is Set to Break Saudi Arabia’s 35-Year Cinema Ban

Saudi Arabia is an amazing country with a rich history and culture. It also has plenty of things to see and do for visitors. However, one thing that residents and tourists alike have missed out on for more than three decades is movies. Now, ‘Black Panther’ is set to change that as it is breaking the 35-year cinema ban.

Italia Film is the Middle East distribution partner of Disney and they are joining forces to release ‘Black Panther on April 18, 2018. This will first be released at the brand new AMC movie theatre that is located in Riyadh as a gala premiere.

The release of the Marvel superhero film is a monumental moment as it marks the first screening of a movie release in this country since a movie ban was enforced during the early 1980s. This was as a result of the ultraconservative religious standards that were adopted in Saudi Arabia in 1979. It is Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman who has now lifted this ban and he made the announcement in December 2017. The move is part of a drive to transform society within Saudi Arabia.

This new era will be marked by the screening of ‘Black Panther’ in a cinema with luxurious surroundings. Originally, the intended purpose of this building was as a concert hall. Located in the King Abdullah Financial District of Riyadh, the cinema boasts 600 leather seats, marble bathrooms, and balcony levels.

Dalian Wanda is the Chinese conglomerate that owns AMC Entertainment. It is rumored that they have plans to open a further 40 cinemas in various locations across Saudi Arabia over the next five years. If things go to plan, they will have opened over 100 movie theaters across the country by 2030.

Now that the ban is lifted, Saudi Arabia has a fantastic market that will contribute to the movie industry economy significantly. Of a population of 32 million people, an estimated 70 percent of these are 30 or younger. The country’s residents are also fairly affluent. This makes them the perfect target demographic for the movie industry. Analysts have predicted that moviegoers in Saudi Arabia will eventually become amongst the top ten markets for theatrical revenues as they have the potential to produce over $1 billion in revenues.

The company that has issued the license for AMC to operate in Saudi Arabia is the Development and Investment Entertainment Company. AMC has stated that their predominant aim is to achieve a market share of 50 percent of the movie theatre industry in Saudi Arabia.

However, they are not alone in trying to enter the movie theatre industry in this country as other companies who are currently in the process of building cinemas include Vue, Empire, iPic, Cinepolis, and CJ CGV. The Dubai-based companies also building cinemas are Cinemacity and Vox Cinemas.

Prior to its release in Saudi Arabia, ‘Black Panther’ has already achieved a phenomenal level of success. In fact, it is already the 10th highest-grossing film in terms of global box office receipts of all-time and it is continuing to climb up the rankings.

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