Saudi Arabia’s first cinema in more than 35 years will open on April 18, with the premiere of action movie ‘Black Panther,’ bringing the country’s ban of over 3 decades to an end.
Marvel’s record-breaking superhero blockbuster, which has already amassed north of $1.2 billion since launching in February, will herald Saudi Arabia’s return to the cinema world.
It will be the first film to be screened to the public in a movie theater in the country since it lifted a 35-year cinema ban.
It is part of a deal done with the world’s biggest cinema chain, AMC, to open up to 40 cinemas in some 15 Saudi cities over the next five years.
The news makes Disney and its regional distribution partner in the Middle East, Italia Film, the first to officially release a movie in the kingdom as it undergoes dramatic reforms.
The film will be given a gala premiere on April 18 in Riyadh at the first AMC-branded cinema, which was announced Wednesday.
The 620-seater theater set to open less than four months after the ban lifting was announced in December.
It is a converted symphony hall in the King Abdullah Financial District, and it’s the first of hundreds of cinemas planned to open in the next decade.
‘Black Panther’ is set to play for five days in Riyadh and will be swiftly followed by ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ on April 26.
The announcement that Riyadh will screen the superhero flick is another indicator that Saudi Arabia is changing — and it wants people to notice.
The kingdom announced it would open movie theaters last December.
Saudi Arabia started closing movie theaters after it embraced an extremely conservative interpretation of Islam in 1979. But Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the de facto leader of Saudi Arabia, says he wants to modernize his country.