Vox Cinemas to Operate Over 600 Screens in Saudi Arabia

United States film Black Panther hit the Saudi screens on Friday, the first public movie screening in the kingdom for over 35 years.

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'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".

Families huddled around movie posters to take selfies, soaking up an experience that is mundane in most parts of the world but a novelty in the ultra-conservative desert kingdom.

"Saudis now are going to be able to go to a attractive theater and watch movies the way they're supposed to be watched: on a big screen", he told Reuters ahead of the screening.

The waves of changes are sweeping across the Saudi Kingdom since a while now, the first ever Saudi fashion week kicked off last week and now the first ever cinema in over 35 years for Saudi Arab has been opened officially with a private screening of the blockbuster "Black Panther".

A red carpet invitation-only gala event attracted senior government officials, foreign dignitaries and select industry figures to watch Marvel's superhero movie "Black Panther" on a 45-foot screen at a converted symphony concert hall in Riyadh.

Recent reforms include expanding of women's rights so that they will soon be allowed to drive cars, participate in various sports, and even find employment in the country's ministry of justice.


The deeply conservative Muslim kingdom is ending a almost 40-year ban on commercial cinemas, which were shuttered in the early 1980s under pressure from Islamists but are returning through a modernising drive by the reform-minded crown prince.

Tickets will go on sale on Thursday for the first public viewings on Friday, according to Adam Aron, chief executive of operator AMC Entertainment Holdings.

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

AMC, which is owned by Chinese property and entertainment conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group, has plans to open at least 30 cinemas across the kingdom in the next five years.

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.

Jamal Khashoggi, a dissident Saudi writer, describes the theaters of the 1970s as being "like American drive-ins, except much more informal".

"This is a landmark moment in the transformation of Saudi Arabia into a more vibrant economy and society", Saudi Minister of Culture and Information Awwad Alawwad said in statement.


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