Saudi Arabia Lifts Long-Standing Cinema Ban With Black Panther

In addition to a piling number of accolades and achievements in the box office, Black Panther will have the honor to be the first movie screened in Saudi Arabia following the end of a cinema ban that has been in effect for more than three decades.

The landmark premiere is scheduled for April 18, 2018, in a new AMC theater recently built in Riyadh, the capital and main financial hub of the country. While the governing bodies have promised (via BBC) to not segregate audiences by gender, they will keep a vigilant eye on what movies to screen in their cinemas.

Saudi Arabia is currently undertaking an ambitious economic and social reform initiative — “Vision 2030” — that aims to modernize the country. The diversification movement is being led by the Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman himself.

According to a deal made between AMC, the largest theater chain in the world, and the Development and Investment Entertainment Company, a subsidiary of the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia, about forty more cinemas are expected to be opened within five years and up to three hundred by 2030.

Saudi Arabia is an untapped market for cinema, leading analysts to believe that the country could eventually produce $1 billion in ticket sales and be among the top ten theatrical markets in the world.

Black Panther, roaring in theaters later this month, is only the beginning. You can probably expect the highly anticipated Avengers: Infinity War to premiere in the country as well.

Black Panther has been directed by Ryan Coogler and entered the top ten highest-grossing movies of all time this week after earning more than $1,279 billion in the worldwide box office.

The setting takes place two years after King T’Chaka was assassinated in Captain America: Civil War (2016) for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, leading to the nation of Wakanda spiraling down in political turmoil. There is a threat of war on the horizon, and a coup lying in wait for the throne.