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Following Saudi Arabia’s cinema ban lifted in 2018, PwC called the country’s cinema sector a “billion-dollar opportunity.”
With a projected population of over 39 million by 2030, the country has the potential to accommodate approximately 2,600 screens, indicating significant room for growth in the industry.
The sector had gained a substantial boost through major investments from the Development Investment Entertainment Company (DIEC) and the active participation of AMC Entertainment.
After the ban lasted nearly 40 years, VOX cinemas also spoke of their plans to invest $533 million to open 600 screens across the kingdom and provide 3,000 new jobs over the next few years.
Five years later, Saudi’s cinema industry has raked in $142.6 million, according to the General Commission for Audiovisual Media (GCAM).
The sector recorded a 28% growth during 2023’s second quarter only.
CGCAM also said that the kingdom’s cinema sector is the largest in the region, with over seven operators in 21 cities and 64,000 seats in 69 movie theaters.
Over 10 million tickets have been sold, with the highest-grossing film being the American action drama Top Gun: Maverick, which sold over
1.2 million tickets and grossed $22 million.
The Ministry of Commerce reported that commercial records for film production have surpassed 1,700, up from more than 1,300 at the same time last year.
Besides movie screenings, Saudi Arabia is becoming a popular film shooting location. Filmmaker Simon West, known for directing films such as Con Air, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, and The Expendables 2, is reportedly set to film his next movie in the country.
The movie Antara is an epic film based on the true story of Antara ibn Shaddad, a slave who became a knight and poet. The movie will be set in NEOM and co-produced by Alexander Amartei.
“Bringing the story of Antara ibn Shaddad to the big screen and the masses is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to continue his legend,” said West. “The opportunity to film in the homeland of the Banu Abs tribe means we will keep true to the piece while helping to grow the emerging film industry in the region.”