It has been a few months since AMC opened its first cinema screens in Saudi on April 18, 2018, to showcase ‘Black Panther’ to its eager nationals.
Since then, two other operators, VOX and Empire Cinemas, were given licenses to open their own cinemas. They’ve since opened their own theaters.
However, on Wednesday, a 4th license was awarded to Lux Entertainment Co. in partnership with Al-Hokair Group for Tourism and Development, Cinépolis International and Al-Tayer Group by Media Minister Dr. Awwad bin Saleh Al-Awwad, according to a press release from the company.
The partnership seeks to establish some 300 screens in 15 cities and towns across the Kingdom within the next five years, according to the company’s press announcement.
Saudi was previously a large and entirely untapped entertainment market and the government indicated that it was willing to provide financial assistance to fund expansion.
An untapped industry
Saudi anticipates 350 cinemas with over 2,500 screens by 2030 to attract nearly $1 billion in annual ticket sales, contributing $24bn to the economy and creating 30,000 jobs, according to Mubashar.
Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman plans are to modernize the conservative kingdom while also attracting investments, which includes a goal to increase household spending on entertainment from 2.9% to 6% of the gross domestic product, according to Financial Times.
Bolstering the entertainment sector fits with the Prince’s ambitious Vision 2030 plan, which hopes to diversify Saudi’s economy by boosting non-oil sectors.
The three licensees currently operating in the country have yet to give any numbers regarding their operations. Below, we take a look at what these three companies have done so far.
AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. was granted the first cinema license in Saudi Arabia.
It has already opened a cinema screen in KAFD conference center, in Riyadh, showing movies ranging from ‘The Meg’, a shark movie, to ‘Gold’, a movie about a hockey coach in India.
The company is planning to open around 40 cinemas in 15 Saudi cities over the next five years, according to a statement.
In April 2018, Vox Cinemas, a subsidiary of Majid Al-Futtaim, won the second license to operate cinemas in the Kingdom.
It opened its first screens in Riyadh Park, with movies like Christopher Robbins, a Winnie the Pooh live-action movie, to ‘Jurassic World’, the newest installment in the dinosaur/thriller movie series ‘Jurassic Park’.
Majid Al-Futtaim has plans to invest approximately $533 million in the next five years to open 600 screens and provide 3,000 jobs, according to Mubashar.
Last but not least on June 2018, Al-Awwad handed over the third cinema operation license to the Al-Rashed United Group — Empire Cinema.
The company is looking to build 30 theaters in several Saudi cities over the next three years.
However, as of writing, it seems it hasn’t yet started operations in the country.