Three years since the ban on cinemas was lifted in the kingdom, there are now 34 movie theatres operating in 12 cities across the country.
More than 12m cinema tickets have been sold in Saudi Arabia since a ban on cinemas was lifted three years ago – that’s despite enforced closures throughout the coronavirus pandemic, according to a report by Saudi Press Association.
Since the ban was lifted by the General Authority for Audiovisual Media back in 2018, 34 cinemas have opened in 12 cities within six administrative regions in the kingdom.
There has been the addition of 342 screens and more than 35,000 seats, and 11 companies specialised in cinema operation are working across the country, including nine international companies licensed.
Cinemas were reopened as part of the Quality of Life Programme, in accordance with the kingdom’s Vision 2030.
The first to reopen was in Riyadh on April 18, 2018, and the most recent was last week in Hail, with 10 screens and 1,309 seats.
Early estimates were that total cinema revenue in Saudi Arabia is expected to reach $1.5bn by 2030, according to research from PwC Middle East back in 2018. The forecast was based on a projected 2030 population of 39.5m, and 6.6 screens per 100,000 people.
Acting Executive Director for Marketing and Communication at the Quality of Life Programme Center, Khaled Bin Abdullah Al-Bakr indicated that the Quality of Life Programme works through the initiatives of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, and through the executive bodies, to develop the sector in an integrated manner, as the Public Authority for Audiovisual Media works on the operational side of the sector, while the Film Authority, one of the Ministry of Culture agencies, supports and stimulates the sector in terms of production.
Al-Bakr emphasized the important economic roles of the sector, which has created more than 2,500 direct jobs, in addition to economic opportunities in film sector as a whole. More than 70 cinemas are expected to open soon in 13 administrative regions, he said.
He added that the authority works to support local content, film production and Saudi filmmakers of both sexes to establish their presence locally and internationally.