All across the country, Saudi Arabians get ready to step into the cinema on April 18 for the first time in 35 years and the first movie they will get to watch on the big screen is Marvel Studios’ and Disney’s hit movie “Black Panther.” According to CNN, “Black Panther” has now made $665.4 million domestically in the United States, which makes the film starring Chadwick Boseman the third-highest grossing film in North American history. The film has now officially passed “Titanic” and is only behind big money makers “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” and “Avatar.”
Not only will cinema goers get to watch one of the most talked about blockbusters in recent filmmaking history, they will get to do so in a theatre that provides mixed-gender seating, a venue that the news site describes as “a glittering invitation-only rededication of a space built two years ago as a symphony concert hall” in Riyadh.
The multiplex’s main theater will have 620 leather seats, orchestra and balcony levels, and marble bathrooms. By summer, the venue aims to add three movie screens that will allow for an additional 500 people. Saudi Arabia has also agreed with US-based AMC Entertainment to repurpose the concert hall in the King Abdullah Financial District and open theaters in 40 cities across the Kingdom in the next five years, and up to 100 cinemas by 2030.
Before the ban was put into place, Saudi Arabia had some cinemas in the 1970s but they were eventually closed as Islamist influence throughout the Arab region began to increase. Following his ascension to his role as Crown Prince, Mohammed Bin Salman has been on a determined journey to modernize Saudi Arabian society, diversifying the country’s oil-dependent economy and bringing back the more moderate Islam of the Kingdom’s past. Part of the reforms that have been put into place by the Crown Prince included last year’s rescinding of the decades-old ban on cinemas