Marvel's Black Panther will be the first movie shown in the cinemas of Saudi Arabia in 35 years. The Guardian reports that the film will begin on April 18 with a gala premiere in Riyadh. Saudi Arabia banned public film screenings 35 years ago because of religious concerns, but the decision to revoke that ban was taken in December 2017. The Sony Emoji movie was screened in the country earlier this year along with other animated films , but those exhibitions took place in a state cultural center, instead of the permanent theaters that will house Black Panther.
Black Panther has dominated the box office since its launch on February 16, with the film crossing the $ 1 billion mark worldwide in March. The premiere of the film on April 18 will take place in the first Saudi Arabian theater of AMC, built in the financial district King Abdullah. Originally, the building was conceived as a symphony hall, so its main theater will include 500 leather seats, orchestra and balcony levels, and marble bathrooms. "We think it's going to be the most beautiful cinema in the world," said AMC CEO Adam Aron.
The AMC Theaters plan to move quickly in the area following the lifting of the ban. The Los Angeles Times reports that the chain plans to open up to 100 theaters in 25 different cities in Saudi Arabia by 2030; it is expected that up to 40 of those places, spread over 15 cities, will be opened within the next five years. The expansion plans would almost instantaneously make AMC one of the main players in what is expected to be a new and lucrative theatrical market. According to The Guardian, Saudi Arabia has plans for 350 cinemas with more than 2,500 screens by 2030.