Published: Sat, April 21, 2018
Hi-Tech | By Grace Becker

Vox Cinemas to open 600 new screens in Saudi Arabia

Vox Cinemas to open 600 new screens in Saudi Arabia

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". License to operate historic theatres has gone to American movie theatre chain (AMC).

AMC chief executive Adam Aron said ticket sales will commence on Thursday for the first public shows on Friday. This is the first in a series of trial runs before movie theaters open to the wider public. This would be a test screening before the cinema hall become completely operational.

"This is a historic day for AMC".

With the dashing return of cinema to Saudi Arabia, AMC Cinemas has announced a partnership with Noon.com to sell tickets online for initial screenings of "Black Panther", the Marvel Studios production of the immensely popular comic book that marks the return theaters to the Kingdom on April 20.

Religious hardliners, who have long vilified movie theatres as vulgar and sinful, were instrumental in shutting down cinemas in the 1980s.

The lifted ban is just a part of the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's efforts to create a more "open and moderate Islam" for the country. "That might sound familiar to some of you", Aron joked.

VOX to open multiplex in Riyadh soon
Middle East Theater Chain Vox to Become Second to Open in Saudi Arabia

Further cinemas now under design include MAF's Mall of Saudi and City Center Ishbiliyah, with both locations opening in Riyadh in future, with additional announcements on new locations expected soon.

Worldwide theatre chains have long eyed Saudi Arabia with its more than 30 million people as the Middle East's last untapped mass market, the majority of whom are under 25.

AMC will still face stiff competition from other heavyweights including Dubai-based VOX Cinemas, the leading operator in the Middle East.

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.

This announcement will open the way for VOX Cinemas to bring its cinema entertainment portfolio to Saudi, it added.

"The restoration of cinemas will ... help boost the local economy by increasing household spending on entertainment while supporting job creation in the Kingdom", Culture and Information Minister Awwad Alawwad said in a statement. "Welcome to the era when movies can be watched by Saudis not in Bahrain, not in Dubai, not in London but inside the kingdom".

North Korea's Kim suspends nuclear and missile tests as Trump hails decision
South Korea has welcomed North Korea's announcement it will halt nuclear and missile tests and shut down its nuclear test site. Onodera said it was not the time to ease worldwide pressure on North Korea, which he said must give up all nuclear weapons.

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