Saudi Arabia set for first public film screening at cinema


Awwad Al-Awwad, opened the first cinema screening in Saudi Arabia on Thursday evening, operated by the world's largest cinema operator and developer AMC Theatres, after almost 35 years of complete cinema shutdown in the kingdom. It will include the first IMAX screen to exhibit movies and VOX KIDS, the concept designed especially for young movie fans. This Wednesday screening of Black Panther (an interesting choice, considering the film's narrative parallels to their Prince's recent history in his kingdom) was historic for the country: being the first screening of a movie in a cinema in 35 years, because of laws that were on the books in the conservative Muslim country.

Going a step closer to modernisation Saudi Arabia is finally unveiling its first theatre today.

The invitation-only gala event comes after the conservative kingdom lifted the ban on cinemas previous year as part of a far-reaching liberalisation drive, with U.S. giant AMC Entertainment granted the first licence to operate movie theaters.

He said plans were afoot for three more screens in the coming months.

An AFP reporter was invited to Friday's opening but was not allowed by AMC and Saudi authorities to talk to audience members or attend the screening. Termed as a reformist, Mohammad Bin Salman is seeking to balance unpopular subsidy cuts in an era of low oil prices with more entertainment options in spite of opposition from hardliners.The cinemas in the Kingdom were shut down in 1980's, declaring those tools of sins and vulgarity by religious hardliners.

The very first movie that is being shown is Black Panther. It was earlier said by the Officials that movie theaters are expected to open to the public in May.

"If we go as a family we will need a loan", one Saudi quipped on Twitter.

Aron said, "This is a historic day for AMC".

Saudis now splurge billions of dollars annually to see films and visit amusement parks in neighboring tourist hubs like Dubai and Bahrain.

Cinemas, owned by Dubai's Majid Al Futtaim, said on Thursday it had received a license to operate cinemas in Saudi Arabia and would open a four-screen multiplex theater in Riyadh "in the coming days".

Saudi Arabia, with a population of 32 million, a majority of which are under 30, is expected to be the largest market in the region for movie spectators.