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Saudi to become entertainment capital of the world?

Saudiwood still has ways to go before it produces the next movie blockbuster, but it is well on its way to becoming a global entertainment powerhouse.

The 30-old ban on movies lifted by Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman late last year just got another boost, from the world’s movie and entertainment center, the US.

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An estimated 200 film, TV producers, and dealmakers turned out in Beverly Hills, California, to hear presentations from the Saudi General Entertainment Authority (SGEA), as the crown prince makes his rounds around the city.

The SGEA on Wednesday announced deals to bring shows from Cirque du Soleil, Feld Entertainment Inc., and National Geographic to Saudi.

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Ticket Stubs

Earlier on Wednesday, AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. announced plans for as many as 100 theaters in the Gulf country, and this coming April 18, it will launch its first venue after 35 years, as part of opening up to 40 theatres over the next five years.

The government hopes the reopening of cinemas will play a big part in boosting domestic entertainment spending. It anticipates 300 theatres, each with an average of seven screens, showing movies will open by 2030, contributing $24bn to the economy and creating 30,000 jobs.

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The deals being made

Under the accords in California, Cirque du Soleil will bring high-wire acts to the capital Riyadh, while firmly held Feld Entertainment will stage productions such as “Disney on Ice” using local performers. National Geographic Encounter plans events in 10 locations and IMG Artists will create custom programs. The Marvel Experience will open later this year in Jeddah and Riyadh.

 AMC estimated the movie market could reach $1 billion in revenue in a few years.