SEVERE WX : Excessive Heat Watch - Heat Advisory View Alerts

AMC scores Saudi Arabia's first cinema license

America's biggest movie theater company is bringing the silver screen to Saudi Arabia.AMC said Wednesday it ha...

Posted: Apr 5, 2018 1:09 PM
Updated: Apr 5, 2018 1:09 PM

America's biggest movie theater company is bringing the silver screen to Saudi Arabia.

AMC said Wednesday it has scored the first cinema operating license granted by the Saudi Ministry of Culture following the country's move in December to end a 35-year ban on movie theaters.

The US chain signed an agreement with a Saudi government subsidiary to jointly open at least 30 cinemas across the kingdom in the next five years, according to a company statement.

The first AMC movie theater will open in Riyadh, the Saudi capital, on April 18.

Related: Saudi Arabia ends 35-year ban on movie theaters

AMC, which is owned by Chinese property and entertainment conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group, is likely to end up competing with regional cinema operators for Saudi theater goers.

Vox Cinemas and Novo Cinemas, both based in the United Arab Emirates, are interested in expanding across the border into the new, potentially much bigger, Saudi market. The UAE chains already cater to the region by subtitling movies in Arabic and removing scenes of a sexual nature.

Saudi Arabia's cinema industry is expected to grow to around $1 billion over the coming years, AMC said.

Related: 6 ways life in Saudi Arabia will change in 2018

Saudi Arabia is undergoing an economic overhaul under Vision 2030 -- a blueprint for diversifying the economy over the next decade and reducing the country's reliance on oil.

The government is investing billions in the entertainment sector, hoping it will act as a catalyst for economic growth, create new employment and investment opportunities, and provide Saudis with a wider range of entertainment options.

The Saudi government wants its citizens to spend more on entertainment and tourism inside the country, Ahmed Al Khateeb, chairman of Saudi Arabia's General Entertainment Authority, said in an interview with CNNMoney's Richard Quest on Wednesday.

Related: 'Emoji Movie' and popcorn: The cinema experience returns to Saudi Arabia

Saudis have in the past traveled abroad to get their entertainment fix because of all the restrictions in the deeply conservative country. Al Khateeb said Saudis spend roughly $20 billion a year overseas on entertainment and tourism.

The country is gradually relaxing social and cultural restrictions as it tries to return to what Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has called "a more moderate Islam."

The majority of Saudis are supportive of social reforms, Al Khateeb said, noting that some 70% of the kingdom's population is under 30 years old.

Besides cinema openings, Cirque du Soleil will come to Riyadh this year and the city of Jeddah hosted the kingdom's first-ever Comi-Con in February, he said.

WWE is also holding a Royal Rumble wrestling event in Jeddah this month, featuring wrestler and actor John Cena.

Saudi movie fans already got a taste of Tinseltown in January, when a film festival in Jeddah screened "The Emoji Movie" and "Captain Underpants."

-- Zahraa Alkhalisi contributed to this story.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 609810

Reported Deaths: 7746
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1263481799
Ramsey53049910
Dakota47251475
Anoka43239465
Washington27676296
Stearns22670227
St. Louis18260319
Scott17701139
Wright16528153
Olmsted13517103
Sherburne1213096
Carver1074649
Clay829692
Rice8252111
Blue Earth770744
Crow Wing688599
Kandiyohi670085
Chisago627054
Otter Tail590687
Benton585398
Goodhue485674
Douglas478481
Mower477633
Winona463752
Itasca462768
Isanti446066
McLeod434361
Morrison427962
Beltrami410263
Nobles410050
Steele400819
Polk390872
Becker389357
Lyon365254
Carlton356958
Freeborn351134
Pine337623
Nicollet334245
Mille Lacs314956
Brown308840
Le Sueur299727
Cass288233
Todd288233
Meeker266044
Waseca240823
Martin237033
Roseau212421
Wabasha20843
Hubbard198041
Dodge18973
Renville183446
Redwood178141
Houston175516
Cottonwood168224
Wadena165023
Fillmore159210
Faribault156920
Chippewa154038
Pennington153820
Kanabec147828
Sibley147310
Aitkin139237
Watonwan13619
Rock129019
Jackson123112
Pipestone117126
Yellow Medicine115320
Pope11396
Swift107518
Murray107410
Koochiching96819
Stevens92611
Clearwater89217
Marshall88817
Lake84520
Wilkin83813
Lac qui Parle76122
Big Stone6094
Grant5958
Lincoln5863
Mahnomen5669
Norman5509
Kittson49122
Unassigned48293
Red Lake4037
Traverse3825
Lake of the Woods3484
Cook1740

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 374664

Reported Deaths: 6109
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk58891646
Linn21448342
Scott20426250
Black Hawk16680319
Woodbury15319230
Johnson1473686
Dubuque13595213
Dallas1144099
Pottawattamie11307177
Story1082848
Warren592092
Clinton564393
Cerro Gordo562297
Webster538996
Sioux519174
Muscatine4920106
Marshall491479
Des Moines478275
Jasper452073
Wapello4366123
Buena Vista431040
Plymouth404982
Lee392658
Marion369177
Jones301257
Henry301037
Bremer292763
Carroll286252
Boone271234
Crawford270841
Benton262755
Washington259851
Dickinson250745
Mahaska232551
Jackson225842
Kossuth219166
Clay217327
Tama213372
Delaware211743
Winneshiek200636
Buchanan196734
Page195422
Cedar192923
Hardin191144
Wright189140
Fayette188243
Hamilton186851
Harrison181973
Clayton173057
Butler167835
Madison167719
Floyd164642
Mills163824
Cherokee161538
Lyon160941
Poweshiek159036
Allamakee155552
Hancock153134
Iowa148324
Winnebago145731
Calhoun143113
Cass140855
Grundy139333
Emmet136741
Jefferson134535
Sac132620
Shelby131838
Louisa130249
Union129535
Appanoose128049
Franklin127823
Mitchell127243
Chickasaw125717
Guthrie124532
Humboldt124526
Palo Alto114924
Montgomery106738
Howard105322
Clarke102424
Monroe100633
Keokuk99932
Ida92735
Adair89632
Davis86825
Pocahontas86822
Monona85931
Greene79111
Osceola79017
Lucas77423
Worth7568
Taylor67112
Decatur6629
Fremont64810
Ringgold56824
Van Buren56718
Wayne56323
Audubon52913
Adams3494
Unassigned90
Rochester
Partly Cloudy
78° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 80°
Mason City
Partly Cloudy
88° wxIcon
Hi: 92° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 95°
Albert Lea
Partly Cloudy
88° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 94°
Austin
Partly Cloudy
82° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 87°
Charles City
Cloudy
84° wxIcon
Hi: 93° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 90°
Staying hot through mid-week
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Community Events