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Saudi cinema on the prowl: Black Panther test screening underway 

After 35-years of cinema ban, Saudi is opening its first big screen, almost.

A series of test-screening for Marvel’s blockbuster superhero film Black Panther is currently taking place.

It is one of the most important family oriented movies at the box office, and according to Forbes, Black Panther earned another $5.77 million in its ninth weekend of release.

“It wasn’t that far behind the $6.3m ninth-weekend gross of Star Wars: The Force Awakens and for reference, the top two weekend nine grosses are Titanic ($28.1m in 1998) and Avatar ($23.6m in 2010),” said Forbes.

The Black Panther screening in the cinema will be open to the public in May.

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Let’s go to the movies

Saudi state media said that 40 cinemas will open across 15 cities over the next five years, according to an agreement between the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF) and AMC Entertainment Holdings.

The first cinema is opening in King Abdullah Financial District.

The theatre, which was originally intended to be a symphony concert hall, is set to have 500 leather seats, orchestra, and balcony levels and marble bathrooms, according to AMC Chief Executive Adam Aron.

In February, Saudi Arabia’s General Entertainment Authority announced it will stage more than 5,000 festivals and concerts in 2018.

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Saudi movie culture 40 years ago

Little do people know that more than 30 cinemas were open in major cities in Saudi Arabia around 40 years ago, according to Al Arabiya online

Foreign embassies in the kingdom, like the Nigerian and Italian embassies, played movies and opened their doors for locals to watch them.

There were also the Bab Shareef and Abu Safiya cinemas in Jeddah while in Taif, projection screens were displayed in any huge open space.

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Culture and Arts Association Director Ahmad al-Mulla told that the Saudi cinema launched its first step in 1977 when the first Saudi movie Assassination of a City was produced.

The movie, which is about Beirut and the destruction it suffered due to the civil war.

The activity of cinemas in Saudi Arabia began to recede in the 1970s.

In the 1980s, the Saudi cinema’s dreams were shattered due to religious and social changes and a sweeping wave of religiosity, said Al Arabiya.