The expansion will initially see nine new sites in Riyadh, seven in Jeddah, and two each in Taif, Alkhobar, Khamis Mushait and Al-Kharj.
Saudi Arabia’s first home-grown cinema chain, Muvi Cinemas, has announced a SR820m ($218.6m) expansion plan for 2021.
Muvi Cinemas intends to grow to 307 screens nationwide over the next 12 months, launching 23 new sites in eight key Saudi regions, adding 204 screens and 22,872 seats to its portfolio. The expansion will bring the brand’s total number of seats to over 35,000.
The expansion will initially see nine new sites in Riyadh, seven in Jeddah, and two each in Taif, Alkhobar, Khamis Mushait and Al-Kharj. The cities of Buraidah and Uniazah will soon welcome their first-ever Muvi locations.
Speaking about the expansion plan, Sultan Alhokair, CEO of Muvi Cinemas, said: “Our optimistic expansion plan for 2021 far exceeds our original goals for the year. After seeing the potential opportunities across the Kingdom, and in light of the strongbox office growth and market share obtained, we’re now confidently in a position to inaugurate 23 new locations — all of which will feature the world’s most cutting-edge cinema technologies.”
The expansion comes after the brand reported a successful 2020, which saw the addition of eight new multiplexes.
The statement from Muvi also revealed plans for eight additional locations currently in their design phase, slated to open in 2023 and 2024. These plans put the company on track to exceed 600 screens by the end of 2024.
He added: “This is a total investment of SR2.3bn which will generate more than 5,000 career opportunities for Saudi nationals.”
Muvi’s 2021 expansion follows a strategic partnership announced in December with Telfaz11, a Riyadh-based digital-media studio that develops and produces Arabic-language content primarily for audiences in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).
Through the partnership, Muvi will provide its cinema platforms to Telfaz11’s local content creators. Telfaz11, in turn, will offer its creative services to Muvi as the company expands.
Despite challenges from the coronavirus pandemic, Muvi has continued to expand. In January it opened a pop-up movie theatre in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia’s first drive-in since the nationwide ban on cinemas was lifted in 2018.
With cinemas closed for much of the first half of 2020 due to Covid-19 lockdowns, the drive-in offered customers a way to enjoy movies from the comfort and safety of their own cars, with all the necessary protective measures applied.