Black Panther has been arguably the most buzzworthy movie of the year. The film was a huge box office hit, with glowing reviews from respected movie critics. It was a phenomenon that celebrated black culture and offered a diverse representation. All in all, Black Panther is almost spoilt with achievements, and it looks like they can add another significant one to their repertoire. The Marvel Cinematic Universe film was the first film to receive a theatrical screening in Saudi Arabia in 35-years and the theatre was sold out for this historic occasion. This is a huge step forward for cinema in Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia imposed a cinema ban in the 1980s, a direct result of Saudi Arabia adopting more conservative and stringent regulations, which was part of their push towards religious values in 1979. However, back in December, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced that this ban was to be lifted. The reception to this news was hugely positive, and it clearly shows, with the AMC-branded theatre in Riyadh packing a full house. It is really encouraging to see the support in numbers of these Saudi Arabians.
The overruling of this ban also offers lucrative fiscal benefits. With a population of 23 million people under the age of 20, there is a potential annual revenue of $1 billion. There will be a significant development in the theatre scene in Saudi Arabia, as AMC plans to open up 40 theaters there within the year and is planning for a total of 100 within the next five years.
Black Panther being the first movie to screen in Saudi Arabia in 35 years is quite a fitting choice. Its multi-cultural themes that show the evolution of traditional values fit nicely into Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman’s hope of transforming Saudi Arabia’s values.