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Saudi Arabia's Public Cinema Ban Lifts With A Showing Of 'Black Panther'

23 April, 2018, 05:44 | Author: Abraham Jackson
  • VOX to open multiplex in Riyadh soon

While addressing the audience of government officials and industry figures as Adam Aron stood before a large screen in a converted concert hall before the screening of Black Panther, he said, "This is a historic day for AMC".

Owned by the UAE-based Al-Futtaim Group, Vox Cinemas will invest about 2 billion riyals ($ 533 million) in Saudi Arabia over the next five years, opening and operating a total of 600 screenings in several shopping centers, including Riyadh Park and City Centre Ishbiliyah, Riyadh.

In February, Saudi Arabia's General Entertainment Authority announced it will stage more than 5,000 festivals and concerts in 2018, double the number of past year, and pump $64 billion in the sector in the coming decade.

The cinema will open to the public on Friday, operator AMC Entertainment Holdings revealed, and judging by pictures taken this week, the theatre is not segregated by gender. "It's been about 37 years since you've been able to watch movies the way movies are meant to be watched in a theater, together on a big screen".

"Saudis now are going to be able to go to a handsome theatre and watch movies the way they're supposed to be watched: on a big screen", Adam Aron, chief executive of AMC Entertainment Holdings, told the news agency.

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia The lights dimmed and the crowd of men and women erupted into applause and hoots Wednesday evening as Hollywood's blockbuster "Black Panther" premiered in Saudi Arabia's first movie theater.

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Similar to television programming, movies are likely to face some censorship in the kingdom, where sex, religion and politics are widely seen as taboo subjects.

More cinema locations will be announced "in the coming weeks", MAF added.

The Kingdom has ended over three-decade ban on commercial cinemas, which were shuttered in the early 1980s but are returning through a modernising drive by the reform-minded Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman, deputy premier and minister of defense. The Saudi official said there would also be no segregation when theaters open to the public - moviegoers would be able to choose between mixed, male-only and female-only screenings. The government hopes the re-introduction of movie theaters will add more than $24 billion to the economy by 2030.

AMC Entertainment signed a non-binding agreement in December to build and operate cinemas across the kingdom. "This is a historic day for your country, Welcome to the era when movies can be watched by Saudis not in Bahrain, not in Dubai, not in London... but inside the Kingdom".

Saudi Arabia had already started gradually loosening restrictions on movie screenings in the past few years, with local film festivals and screenings in makeshift theaters.



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