VOX pops in Saudi-Will the corn be popping as well?

Todd Singleton
April 23, 2018

According to AMC chief executive Adam Aron, ticket sales will commence on Thursday for the first public shows on Friday.

The American-made blockbuster became the first film screened at Saudi Arabia's first commercial movie theatre, ending the kingdom's 35-year ban on cinemas. However, there would be censorship in the kingdom like there is on television. "Welcome to the era when movies can be watched by Saudis not in Bahrain, not in Dubai, not in London but inside the kingdom".

Theater operator AMC plans to open at least 40 cinemas in 15 Saudi cities in the next 3 to 5 years.

The invitation-only gala event in a converted Riyadh concert hall on Wednesday was the first in a series of test screenings after a ban on cinemas was lifted past year.

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. Promised reforms include allowing Saudi women to drive, the continued showing of movies subject to government approval, and allowing men and women to attend fashion shows.

The move to open movie theaters in Saudi comes as part of Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman efforts to reform various aspect of Saudi Arabia's political, economic and social life.

The conservative kingdom lifted a 35-year ban on cinemas last year as part of a far-reaching liberalisation drive, with United States giant AMC Entertainment granted the first licence to operate movie theatres.

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More cinema locations will be announced "in the coming weeks", MAF added. It said it expects the first venue to open later this year. "VOX Cinemas will join a growing stable of Majid Al Futtaim's leading retail, leisure and entertainment brands operating across the Kingdom". Saudis in large part flocked to places like Dubai on the weekends to catch the latest movies before the change in the law. In an opinion piece for The Washington Post, he wrote that a friend once broke his leg at a screening in Medina when he jumped off a wall to escape the religious police and avoid arrest.

Access to streaming services, such as Netflix, and satellite TV steadily eroded attempts by the government to censor what the Saudi public could view.

To adhere to the kingdom's norms on gender segregation, certain screenings may be held for families and others for male-only crowds.

Saudi movie fans already got a taste of Tinseltown in January, when a film festival in Jeddah screened "The Emoji Movie" and "Captain Underpants".

"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.

The new movie theater also came equipped with prayer rooms to accommodate the daily Muslim prayer times.

Other reports by Free-Prsite

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