This really interesting article on developments in Saudi Arabia’s film industry by Jennifer Holleis is published by German media company Deutsche Welle:
It was a cinematic revolution that would have hit the screens – if there had been any. In 2018, the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Culture and Information announced the end of the cinema ban after 35 years. Since then, a whole new industry has emerged and the population of almost 35 million people has embraced the new entertainment opportunities. “Before the pandemic, malls used to be jam-packed on Fridays with people going to the movie theaters,” Zeina Sfeir, an expert on the Arab film industry and director and producer of documentaries in Lebanon, told DW on the phone.
In fact, it took only four months after the end of the ban to open the doors of the first cinema in Riyadh on April 18, 2018, with the first commercial screening being “Pink Panther” in front of — a novelty — a mixed audience. On average, however, people are able to choose between mixed, male-only and female-only screenings.
By 2030, one of the governing authorities to regulate and operate cinemas, the General Commission for Audiovisual Media (GCAM), expects there to be around 350 cinemas and 2,500 movie screens in the country, as well as an industry worth around $1 billion (€836,000). The kingdom also aims to see household spending on entertainment to double from making up 3% of GDP in 2018/2019 to 6% in 2030.
Read the full story here.