(DESPARDES/PKONWEB) — During Saudi crown prince Mohammad bin Salman’s visit to Los Angeles on Wednesday, the American Theater Company (AMC) will issue the first license to operate cinemas in the Kingdom, Okaz reported on Tuesday.
In a related note, Black Panther will be the opening film for first Saudi cinema in 35 years– the Kingdom’s cinemas were shut down in the 1970s.
The Marvel blockbuster will be screened at a gala premiere in the capital Riyadh on 18 April.
Black Panther has dominated the box office since its release on February 16th, with the film crossing the $1 billion mark worldwide in March.
The move follows a deal with AMC Entertainment Holdings to open up to 40 theaters across the country during the next five years.
Unlike other public venues in the country, the cinemas will not be segregated by gender, according to Sky News.
AMC’s first cinema will be located in the King Abdullah financial district in a building originally intended to be a symphony concert hall, AMC chief executive Adam Aron said.
He added: “We think it’s going to be the prettiest movie theater in the world. It’s a dramatic building.”
Mr Aron added that he expected the same versions of films shown in Dubai or Kuwait would be considered suitable for audiences in Saudi Arabia.
While AMC has the largest share of the American theater market– more than 8,200 screens in 661 theaters in the U.S. it also owns the world’s largest movie theater chain, with more than 2,200 screens in 244 theaters in Europe.
According to experts in the cinema sector, the signing of the agreement with one of the most leading cinema operating companies in the world is a major leap forward to ensure success in the sector, which will start operating shortly in the Kingdom.
The Board of Directors of the General Authority for Audio-visual Media in December approved the decision to grant license to those wishing to open cinemas in the Kingdom, paving the way for the return of cinema to the Kingdom after a break of four decades.