Last year, Saudi Arabia announced a landmark decree: after almost four decades of prohibiting public cinemas, the Kingdom rescinded the ban and its very first cinema opened a few months after that in its capital city, Riyadh. Then, in May of this year, the country launched the Quality of Life Program 2020, which aims to promote new options for participation in cultural, entertainment, and sporting events that contribute to the Kingdom’s quality of life. As Saudi Arabia continues to work on its social and economic reform program known as Vision 2030, it is particularly focused on opening cinemas across the Kingdom, with some reports placing the number of cinemas set to open in the next few years at around 300.
This week, a recent study by PwC Middle East, a global advisory firm, pointed out that Saudi Arabia’s cinema industry is expected to generate $1.5 billion in revenue by 2030, a projection that re-emphasizes the country’s belief in boosting its various entertainment-centric sectors. Indeed, as the report confirms, Saudi Arabia sees the opening of cinemas as a catalyst for economic growth and diversification, ultimately developing a sector that will create new employment and training opportunities, as well as enriching the country’s entertainment options.
Speaking to delegates at the two-day MENA Cinema Forum earlier this week, Dr. Martin Berlin, Middle East Partner and Global Deals Real Estate Leader at PwC Middle East, said, “By 2030, Saudi Arabia is expected to host 2,600 cinema screens that will entertain its growing population […] Based on global and regional benchmarks, we expect the KSA to accommodate between 300 and 370 cinema locations.”
According to Saudi Gazette, Dr. Berlin based his projection on a projected 2030 population of 39.5 million, and 6.6 screens per 100,000 people, explaining that based “on pricing of $11–$14 for lower end formats, and $40 for luxury formats, the KSA could generate $950 million in box office revenues by 2030. As other revenue streams typically account for 35% of overall revenues, this brings the total to $1.5 billion.”