Saudi Arabia is in the international spotlight in recent months due to certain changes happening with its society, changes that have been part of its program to diversify from its overdependence on their petroleum industry. It may seem disjointed with how an economic program can change some traditions and lift certain long-standing prohibitions. First, Saudi women have been allowed to drive vehicles with license. From there, they have been allowed to work as ride-hailing service drivers. Finally, after over three decades, the country is allowing movie theaters to operate again, and with a global blockbuster among its first showings too.
As The Verge tells it, with the lifting of the cinema operation ban in Saudi Arabia during December of last year (after 35 years of suppression due to strict regulations brought on by religious concerns), movie-houses have begun coming to life all over the country, with the very first film premieres of this new cinematic period set to happen this month. In that regard, one of the most anticipated movie releases in Saudi Arabia is the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s “Black Panther”, which is due to come out there on April 18, two weeks from now.
Despite what has just been stated now, “Black Panther” from Marvel Studios will not actually be the first film publicly screen in Saudi Arabia with the lifting of the cinema ban. Earlier this 2018, at a state cultural center in the city of Jeddah, two western animated films were shown for the benefit of guests celebrating the landmark decision by the Saudi royal government, one of these being “The Emoji Movie” from Sony Pictures Animation. On the other hand, the worldwide hit superhero film will be one of the first to premiere in an actual movie-house in Saudi Arabia after three and a half decades.
Interestingly, the cinema showing “Black Panther” starting April 18 will not be a local Saudi business, but a branch from international theater chain AMC, and will be their first in the leading Middle Eastern nation, located at the King Abdullah Financial District of Riyadh. This is merely the beginning of AMC Theaters’ planned Saudi expansion, which hopes to see 100 of their cinemas spread across 25 of the country’s cities. About 40 of these movie-houses are expected to be up and running within five years, and the rest to be open by the year 2030.
Ever since its general premiere starting February 16, “Black Panther” has already surpassed the $1 billion global box office mark. Starring Chadwick Boseman and Michael B. Jordan, the film in a way sets up the next chapter of the MCU, “Avengers: Infinity War” which will itself premiere on April 27.
Photo courtesy of Marvel