This invitation-only test session, first of a many to come, took place in the new cinema of the financial district » King Abdallah » in Ryad on Wednesday after a 35-year ban on movie theaters was lifted last year. The American giant AMC Entertainment has obtained the first license to operate the theaters.
« Welcome to the era when movies can be watched by Saudis not in Bahrain, not in Dubai, not in London … but inside the kingdom” said Adam Aron AMC chief executive welcoming a « historic day » for his company, as well as for Saudi Arabia.
Talking about the plot « Black Panther » Mr. Aron joked: « This is a story about a young [royal] who transforms a nation. That might sound familiar to some of you”.
According to Mr. Aron, the sale of tickets for the general public should begin Thursday, for first public sessions from Friday.
The local authorities, however, indicated that the test sessions could still be spread over several days, pending the development of a ticketing system on the internet. Earlier, authorities said cinemas could open in May.
Lifting the ban on cinemas is part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s policy to enhance more entertainment options in an era of low oil prices despite the opposition of conservative religious circles.
Before the official lifting the ban on cinemas in the kingdom, Saudis were until now reduced to seeing their favorite movies in the multiplexes and other amusement parks of Dubai or Bahrain where they spend billions of dolors every year.