Marvel’s Black Panther (2017) is to break Saudi Arabia’s cinema ban by opening the first cinema in the country for 35 years later this month.
The news comes after a deal was made with the world’s biggest cinema chain, AMC, who have planned to roll over 40 movie theaters throughout the Kingdom throughout the next five years.
Saudi Arabia had cinemas back in the 70s, but its powerful conservative clerics had them shut down for religious reasons.
The move looks to contribute to the Vision 2030 initiative—unveiled by the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman—to bring entertainment to Saudi Arabia. Vision 2030 aims to help expand the Saudi economy by reducing its current reliance on oil, providing more jobs and encouraging Saudis to spend their money in their native country rather than abroad.
Black Panther will have its own gala premier on April 18 in Riyadh, the country’s capital and will show for five days following the event. The 620-seater cinema theater is a converted symphony hall located in the King Abdullah Financial District.
AMC’s chief executive Adam Aron said of the theater venue: “We think it’s going to be the prettiest movie theater in the world. It’s a dramatic building.”
An inside source told Reuters that the cinemas would also not be segregated by gender as is usual protocol in the nation’s public places. This move demonstrates an exciting time for the country as more liberal policies are being unrolled.
Saudi’s culture minister Awwad Alawwad said, “The restoration of cinemas will… help boost the local economy by increasing household spending on entertainment while supporting job creation.”