Saudi Arabia Movie Theater Opening by Showing 'Black Panther' Film

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

The theatre is to open to the public this week, and details on how to obtain tickets will be announced on Friday 20 April 2018.

"This is a landmark moment in the transformation of Saudi Arabia into a more vibrant economy and society", Saudi Minister of Culture and Information Awwad Alawwad said before the screening.

The initial screening will be limited to special guests, government officials and executives, but the movie be available to the general public on May 1. Many Saudi clerics view Western movies and even Arabic films made in Egypt and Lebanon as sinful.

Before the weekend's Western strikes, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had indicated that the kingdom would back an worldwide military action in Syria.

In 2017, the government said it would lift the ban as part of reforms that aim to keep money in the country that Saudis now spend on entertainment in trips to Dubai, Bahrain and elsewhere. The social push by the 32-year-old heir to the throne is part of his so-called Vision 2030, a blueprint for the country that aims to boost local spending and create jobs amid sustained lower oil prices.

A source told Reuters last month that theatres would not be segregated by gender like most other public places in Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Culture forecasts that the country of 32 million people will have 350 cinemas by 2030.

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The company is planning to open up to 40 cinemas in 15 cities in Saudi Arabia over the next five years, and a total of 50-100 cinemas in approximately 25 Saudi cities by 2030.

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 handsome movie theater in the world".

For the most part, though, Saudis who wanted to watch a film in a cinema would have to drive to nearby Bahrain or the United Arab Emirates.

In an official opening ceremony before the movie began, AMC bosses joined Saudi government officials on the stage.

Saudi Arabia said previous year that movies "will be subject to censorship according to media policy standards of the Kingdom", to ensure they comply with Saudi values and principles and do not contradict Sharia, or Islamic, law.

A further three screens are expected to open at the AMC cinema in the coming months and will show a range of Hollywood films.

The Public Investment Fund (PIF) announced earlier this month that the wholly-owned Development and Investment Entertainment Company has signed an agreement with United States giant AMC Entertainment to manage its cinemas in Saudi Arabia. Scenes of violence are not cut, but scenes involving nudity, sex or even kissing often do get axed.

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