Following the lifting of Saudi Arabia’s decades-old cinema ban, Vox Cinemas opened its doors in Jeddah on January 28, according to the CEO of Majid Al Futtaim Holding. Cameron Mitchell, CEO of the regional cinema chain Majid Al Futtaim, told Gulf News that Saudi Arabia had the capacity for high audience numbers.
The cinema’s opening took place at the Red Sea Mall at 6:30 p.m. local time, where a ribbon cutting ceremony was followed by a movie screening, Alain Bejjani told Arab News at the World Economic Forum in Davos.
Vox Cinemas last year announced it would invest $533 million to open up to 600 theatres in the kingdom over the next five years.
Saudi Arabia had banned cinemas for 35 years but revealed its first cinema on April 18, 2018 in Riyadh.
The lifting of the ban is in line with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman’s Vision 2030 initiative, which aims to diversify the economy away from oil through the growth of new industries such as entertainment.
In November last year, research by PwC Middle East estimated total cinema revenue in Saudi to reach $1.5 billion by 2030. The forecast is based on a projected 2030 population of 39.5 million, and 6.6 screens per 100,000 people.
“By 2030, Saudi Arabia is expected to host 2,600 cinema screens that will entertain its growing population,” said Dr Martin Berlin, Middle East partner and global deals real estate leader at PwC Middle East.
Based on global and regional benchmarks, PwC said it expects Saudi Arabia to accommodate between 300 and 370 cinema locations.