RIYADH, April 18 — The Marvel superhero film “Black Panther” will be screened on Wednesday in Saudi Arabia as a 35-year ban on movie theatres was lifted in the Middle East country.
AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc, the U.S. movie-theatre chain owned by Dalian Wanda Group, was the first to obtain a license to open cinemas. In an interview on Tuesday night with CNN, AMC Chief Executive Officer Adam Aron confirmed that the first movie to hit Saudi screens would be “Black Panther.”
Saudi authorities have agreed to open the first movie theatre in the King Abdullah Financial District, a financial centre in the capital Riyadh. Aron said the theatre will be in a “dramatic building” and may be “the prettiest movie theatre in the world.”
Saudi moviegoers will be able to enjoy typical Hollywood movies in the new cinema while Hollywood studios have long shown their films in other Middle East countries, Aron said. Saudi Arabia had some cinemas in the 1970s but later imposed a ban.
In 2017, authorities announced a plan to grant licenses to open cinemas the following year as part of reforms to achieve the country’s 2030 economic vision. The Saudi Ministry of Information confirmed that 350 movie theatres with 2,500 screens are expected to open across several cities by 2030.
A short-term plan includes the opening of 40 cinemas in 15 Saudi cities over the next five years. Plans have also been announced to invest 64 billion U.S. dollars in the Saudi entertainment sector over the next 10 years, as well as allowing women to attend concerts, among other reforms.