AMC scores Saudi Arabia's first cinema license

America's biggest movie theater company is bringing the silver screen to Saudi Arabia.AMC said Wednesday it ha...

Posted: Apr 5, 2018 1:09 PM
Updated: Apr 5, 2018 1:09 PM

America's biggest movie theater company is bringing the silver screen to Saudi Arabia.

AMC said Wednesday it has scored the first cinema operating license granted by the Saudi Ministry of Culture following the country's move in December to end a 35-year ban on movie theaters.

The US chain signed an agreement with a Saudi government subsidiary to jointly open at least 30 cinemas across the kingdom in the next five years, according to a company statement.

The first AMC movie theater will open in Riyadh, the Saudi capital, on April 18.

Related: Saudi Arabia ends 35-year ban on movie theaters

AMC, which is owned by Chinese property and entertainment conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group, is likely to end up competing with regional cinema operators for Saudi theater goers.

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. The UAE chains already cater to the region by subtitling movies in Arabic and removing scenes of a sexual nature.

Saudi Arabia's cinema industry is expected to grow to around $1 billion over the coming years, AMC said.

Related: 6 ways life in Saudi Arabia will change in 2018

Saudi Arabia is undergoing an economic overhaul under Vision 2030 -- a blueprint for diversifying the economy over the next decade and reducing the country's reliance on oil.

The government is investing billions in the entertainment sector, hoping it will act as a catalyst for economic growth, create new employment and investment opportunities, and provide Saudis with a wider range of entertainment options.

The Saudi government wants its citizens to spend more on entertainment and tourism inside the country, Ahmed Al Khateeb, chairman of Saudi Arabia's General Entertainment Authority, said in an interview with CNNMoney's Richard Quest on Wednesday.

Related: 'Emoji Movie' and popcorn: The cinema experience returns to Saudi Arabia

Saudis have in the past traveled abroad to get their entertainment fix because of all the restrictions in the deeply conservative country. Al Khateeb said Saudis spend roughly $20 billion a year overseas on entertainment and tourism.

The country is gradually relaxing social and cultural restrictions as it tries to return to what Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has called "a more moderate Islam."

The majority of Saudis are supportive of social reforms, Al Khateeb said, noting that some 70% of the kingdom's population is under 30 years old.

Besides cinema openings, Cirque du Soleil will come to Riyadh this year and the city of Jeddah hosted the kingdom's first-ever Comi-Con in February, he said.

WWE is also holding a Royal Rumble wrestling event in Jeddah this month, featuring wrestler and actor John Cena.

Saudi movie fans already got a taste of Tinseltown in January, when a film festival in Jeddah screened "The Emoji Movie" and "Captain Underpants."

-- Zahraa Alkhalisi contributed to this story.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 319948

Reported Deaths: 7371
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto22285267
Hinds20719421
Harrison18431317
Rankin13901282
Jackson13718248
Madison10263224
Lee10059176
Jones8467167
Forrest7832153
Lauderdale7261242
Lowndes6517150
Lamar635188
Lafayette6313121
Washington5425137
Bolivar4841133
Panola4670110
Oktibbeha466198
Pearl River4605147
Marshall4574105
Warren4440121
Pontotoc425873
Monroe4157135
Union415777
Neshoba4063179
Lincoln4008112
Hancock386987
Leflore3515125
Tate342486
Sunflower339491
Pike3371111
Alcorn327272
Scott320374
Yazoo314171
Adams308086
Itawamba305178
Copiah299966
Coahoma298784
Simpson298589
Tippah291968
Prentiss284161
Leake272074
Marion271280
Covington267283
Wayne264642
Grenada264087
George252251
Newton248663
Tishomingo231868
Winston230181
Jasper222148
Attala215073
Chickasaw210559
Holmes190474
Stone188433
Clay187954
Tallahatchie180041
Clarke178980
Calhoun174132
Yalobusha167840
Smith164134
Walthall135347
Greene131834
Lawrence131124
Montgomery128643
Noxubee128034
Perry127238
Amite126242
Carroll122330
Webster115032
Jefferson Davis108234
Tunica108127
Claiborne103130
Benton102325
Humphreys97533
Kemper96629
Franklin85023
Quitman82216
Choctaw79118
Wilkinson69632
Jefferson66228
Sharkey50917
Issaquena1696
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 548657

Reported Deaths: 11306
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson810031566
Mobile42105831
Madison35690525
Tuscaloosa26173458
Shelby25607254
Montgomery25081614
Baldwin21868314
Lee16278176
Calhoun14719327
Morgan14629285
Etowah14175364
Marshall12453230
Houston10781287
Elmore10293214
Limestone10179157
St. Clair10162251
Cullman9952201
Lauderdale9603250
DeKalb8972190
Talladega8460184
Walker7338280
Autauga7241113
Blount6945139
Jackson6932113
Colbert6413140
Coffee5635127
Dale4928116
Russell454841
Chilton4476116
Franklin431382
Covington4275122
Tallapoosa4138155
Escambia401680
Chambers3728124
Dallas3607158
Clarke353061
Marion3240107
Pike314378
Lawrence3133100
Winston283472
Bibb268564
Geneva257981
Marengo250565
Pickens236962
Barbour234559
Hale227278
Butler224271
Fayette218862
Henry194543
Randolph187544
Cherokee187345
Monroe180041
Washington170539
Macon163051
Clay160059
Crenshaw155957
Cleburne153444
Lamar146837
Lowndes142254
Wilcox126930
Bullock124342
Conecuh113630
Coosa111729
Perry108626
Sumter105732
Greene93634
Choctaw62125
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