Roll Camera Action: The revival of Saudi Arabian cinema

Saudi Arabia ushers in new cinema era with VIP screening of Black Panther

Tickets go on sale on Thursday for public showings on Friday.

The smell of buttery popcorn filled the air as confetti rained down through the multi-storey atrium where Aron and Saudi Minister of Culture and Information Awwad al-Awwad announced the launch and proceeded into the 450-seat hall.

Mr. Dawood added: "The entertainment industry in Saudi Arabia holds incredible promise and we are firmly committed to seeing the exciting world of worldwide, regional and Saudi filmmaking featured in cinemas in every major city in the Kingdom, as set out in Vision 2030".

The development of the entertainment sector in Saudi Arabia is one of the main objectives of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman's Vision 2030 which is set to lead the Kingdom away from its dependence on oil revenues and expand its industries.

In 2017, the government said it would lift the ban in part to retain money that Saudis now spend on entertainment during trips to Dubai, Bahrain and elsewhere.

AMC was the first company to score an operating license from the Saudi Ministry of Culture. Cinema has always played an important role in bringing cultures together and Saudi Arabia is ready to play its part.

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.

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In the 1970s, there were informal movie screenings but the experience could be interrupted by the country's religious police, whose powers have since been curbed.

The gala screening of the Hollywood blockbuster Black Panther was attended by hundreds of invited guests in the sleek and chic complex - described by AMC cinema chain bosses as "the most lovely movie theater in the world".

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

"Saudi policies are failing both domestically and overseas, especially in Lebanon", the Jordanian envoy said, informing his government after meeting his UAE counterpart Hamad bin Saeed al-Shamsi, according to a document released on September 28, 2017.

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.

The majority of the 32 million Saudi population are under 30 and a 2014 study showed Saudis watched films online on a weekly basis. Two scenes of kissing appeared to have been cut from the "Black Panther" screening.

The kingdom banned cinemas in the early 1980s under pressure from Islamists as Saudi society turned towards a particularly severe form of religion.

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