AMC scores Saudi Arabia's first cinema license

America's biggest movie theater company is bringing the silver screen to Saudi Arabia.AMC said Wednesday it ha...

Posted: Apr 5, 2018 1:09 PM
Updated: Apr 5, 2018 1:09 PM

America's biggest movie theater company is bringing the silver screen to Saudi Arabia.

AMC said Wednesday it has scored the first cinema operating license granted by the Saudi Ministry of Culture following the country's move in December to end a 35-year ban on movie theaters.

The US chain signed an agreement with a Saudi government subsidiary to jointly open at least 30 cinemas across the kingdom in the next five years, according to a company statement.

The first AMC movie theater will open in Riyadh, the Saudi capital, on April 18.

Related: Saudi Arabia ends 35-year ban on movie theaters

AMC, which is owned by Chinese property and entertainment conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group, is likely to end up competing with regional cinema operators for Saudi theater goers.

Vox Cinemas and Novo Cinemas, both based in the United Arab Emirates, are interested in expanding across the border into the new, potentially much bigger, Saudi market. The UAE chains already cater to the region by subtitling movies in Arabic and removing scenes of a sexual nature.

Saudi Arabia's cinema industry is expected to grow to around $1 billion over the coming years, AMC said.

Related: 6 ways life in Saudi Arabia will change in 2018

Saudi Arabia is undergoing an economic overhaul under Vision 2030 -- a blueprint for diversifying the economy over the next decade and reducing the country's reliance on oil.

The government is investing billions in the entertainment sector, hoping it will act as a catalyst for economic growth, create new employment and investment opportunities, and provide Saudis with a wider range of entertainment options.

The Saudi government wants its citizens to spend more on entertainment and tourism inside the country, Ahmed Al Khateeb, chairman of Saudi Arabia's General Entertainment Authority, said in an interview with CNNMoney's Richard Quest on Wednesday.

Related: 'Emoji Movie' and popcorn: The cinema experience returns to Saudi Arabia

Saudis have in the past traveled abroad to get their entertainment fix because of all the restrictions in the deeply conservative country. Al Khateeb said Saudis spend roughly $20 billion a year overseas on entertainment and tourism.

The country is gradually relaxing social and cultural restrictions as it tries to return to what Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has called "a more moderate Islam."

The majority of Saudis are supportive of social reforms, Al Khateeb said, noting that some 70% of the kingdom's population is under 30 years old.

Besides cinema openings, Cirque du Soleil will come to Riyadh this year and the city of Jeddah hosted the kingdom's first-ever Comi-Con in February, he said.

WWE is also holding a Royal Rumble wrestling event in Jeddah this month, featuring wrestler and actor John Cena.

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

-- Zahraa Alkhalisi contributed to this story.

Huntsville/Redstone
Clear
53° wxIcon
Hi: 72° Lo: 48°
Feels Like: 53°
Muscle Shoals
Partly Cloudy
53° wxIcon
Hi: 74° Lo: 46°
Feels Like: 53°
Huntsville/Madison
Partly Cloudy
48° wxIcon
Hi: 72° Lo: 48°
Feels Like: 48°
Decatur
Clear
50° wxIcon
Hi: 74° Lo: 49°
Feels Like: 50°
Fort Payne
Partly Cloudy
45° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 49°
Feels Like: 45°
WAAY Radar
WAAY WAAY-TV Cam
WAAY Temperatures

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 518588

Reported Deaths: 10712
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson753351487
Mobile37698798
Madison33829494
Tuscaloosa25245443
Montgomery23942565
Shelby23094238
Baldwin20617300
Lee15510165
Calhoun14277311
Morgan14137268
Etowah13660345
Marshall11952219
Houston10379278
Elmore9988200
Limestone9806147
Cullman9467188
St. Clair9422234
Lauderdale9208227
DeKalb8745181
Talladega8042171
Walker7087275
Jackson6753110
Autauga6715103
Blount6480135
Colbert6200130
Coffee5397112
Dale4766110
Russell428238
Franklin419882
Chilton4080109
Covington4053114
Tallapoosa3892146
Escambia387574
Dallas3526149
Chambers3499122
Clarke346360
Marion3065100
Pike305475
Lawrence295295
Winston272272
Bibb256258
Marengo248561
Geneva245875
Pickens232959
Barbour224755
Hale218675
Butler212266
Fayette208960
Henry187844
Cherokee182044
Randolph176741
Monroe171240
Washington163838
Macon154348
Clay149354
Crenshaw149257
Cleburne146041
Lamar139234
Lowndes136453
Wilcox124327
Bullock121340
Conecuh109028
Perry107926
Sumter102932
Coosa99228
Greene90734
Choctaw58624
Out of AL00
Unassigned00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 822085

Reported Deaths: 12001
CountyCasesDeaths
Shelby914971575
Davidson86563918
Knox48960619
Hamilton42811480
Rutherford41428415
Williamson26942213
Sumner22909338
Montgomery18780223
Out of TN17852101
Wilson17747223
Unassigned16441132
Sullivan15781283
Blount14839194
Bradley14284147
Washington13850240
Sevier12986174
Maury12901166
Putnam11072173
Madison10628240
Robertson9486127
Anderson8539171
Hamblen8409169
Greene7645151
Tipton7171104
Coffee6782121
Dickson6643108
Cumberland6461127
Gibson6355144
Bedford6350126
Carter6332156
McMinn625595
Roane6124101
Jefferson6008121
Loudon595869
Lawrence573186
Hawkins5682105
Monroe564395
Warren549481
Dyer5340104
Franklin504987
Fayette484578
Obion447196
Cocke439598
Cheatham436551
Rhea428075
Lincoln427963
Marshall407358
Campbell405462
Weakley398761
Giles391298
Henderson368375
Carroll355582
Macon354375
White351468
Hardin346166
Hardeman345063
Lauderdale312744
Henry309775
Marion307246
Scott303145
Claiborne302373
Overton294360
Wayne294134
Hickman278345
McNairy275354
DeKalb273953
Smith271737
Haywood267660
Grainger255449
Trousdale247822
Morgan242839
Fentress236346
Johnson226738
Chester208651
Bledsoe208211
Crockett199848
Polk196024
Unicoi191149
Cannon187531
Union184034
Grundy176431
Lake169526
Humphreys168721
Sequatchie165228
Benton160940
Decatur156438
Lewis154826
Meigs132123
Stewart129328
Jackson129235
Clay108331
Houston107333
Perry105628
Moore99217
Van Buren82621
Pickett75524
Hancock53612

Community Events