‘Black Panther’ goes to Saudi Arabia as movie theater ban ends


'Black Panther' goes to Saudi Arabia as movie theater ban ends

In Summary

  • Saudi Arabia is ending a 35-year ban on movie theaters with a screening of Black Panther.
  • America's biggest movie theater company, AMC, will show the Hollywood blockbuster on Wednesday.
  • The gala opening will be limited to about 500 invited guests, executives and officials, but public screenings of the movie will begin soon.

Saudi Arabia is ending a 35-year ban on movie theaters with a screening of Black Panther on Wednesday.

America’s biggest movie theater company, AMC, will show the Hollywood blockbuster at its new single-screen cinema in the financial district of the capital Riyadh.

The gala opening will be limited to about 500 invited guests, executives and officials, but public screenings of the movie will begin soon, AMC said. A Saudi official said that would happen from May 1.

AMC said men and women would be able to sit together at the gala screening. 

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.

Saudi men and women are customarily separated in public places. But that restriction is slowly being relaxed. 

Men and women were able to sit together at several music concerts and events in 2017.

A further three screens are expected to open at the AMC cinema in the coming months and will show a range of Hollywood films.

Late last year, Saudi Arabia announced it would allow cinemas to open in the country as part of its economic overhaul, dubbed Vision 2030.

The government hopes that opening movie theaters will act as a catalyst for economic growth and diversification, creating new employment opportunities and providing Saudis with a greater range of entertainment options. 

The goal over the coming years is to reduce Saudi’s economic reliance on oil.

AMC was the first company to score an operating license from the Saudi Ministry of Culture.

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