The first film to be shown in a theater in Saudi Arabia since 1983 will be Black Panther. Variety reports that BP will end the ban with the help of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s bid to transform, or, at least, tweak Saudi society.
Black Panther will be played in a new, grandiose AMC theater in Riyadh on April 18 (originally a symphony concert hall with 600 plush seats), in a deal between Disney and its Middle-Eastern distribution partner Itala Film. And it’s fitting that BP will be the vanguard. The blockbuster has been roaring since its premiere and is now the fourth highest-grossing domestic film of all-time.
AMC is making a serious push into Saudi Arabia in the coming years. The brand is looking to open 40 new theaters over the next five years and up to 100 new ones by 2030. The company hopes to take advantage of Saudi Arabia’s young, fairly affluent citizenry. Roughly 70 percent of Saudi Arabia’s 70 million people are under the age of 30, and companies are hoping to make the once closed off kingdom one of the highest revenue-producing movie markets in the world.
To note, the ban was technically broken by The Emoji Movie, but two things: 1. We don’t count The Emoji Movie and 2. It wasn’t seen in an actual theater.
With AMC jumping in (owned by Chinese behemoth Dalian Wanda), other movie showers are excited to wrestle for a spot in the market. Variety reports that “iPic, Empire, Vue, CJ CGV, Cinépolis, and Dubai-based Vox Cinemas and Cinemacity” are all set to build cinemas as well.
Black Panther currently sits at 652.5 million domestically, with a worldwide take 1.27 billion. Considering the fact that BP didn’t benefit from a Christmas or summer boost, we’d just like to say we did it, y’all.