IMAX on verge of opening cinemas in Saudi Arabia

IMAX is close to sealing a deal that could see it open cinemas in Saudi Arabia. The cinema technology firm’s chief executive Richard Gelfond said that he hopes to open up to 20 theatres in the conservative country within three years.

“We’ve heard rumblings for the past year that this was going to happen,” Mr Glenfond told CNBC. “For the size of this market, there’s a big opportunity.”

A 35-year ban on cinemas in the Kingdom was lifted on Monday, in the latest social push by Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

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Saudi disposable income is set to lure in cinema giants to the Kingdom, presenting ideal opportunities for more premium cinema experiences.

“Since the market is not that price sensitive, and likes premium luxury goods, this will be a strong market for IMAX,” Mr Gelfond added.

The first cinemas in Saudi Arabia are expected to open in March 2018. So far, Saudi filmmakers and movie buffs have been able to circumvent traditional censors by streaming movies online and watching films on satellite TV.

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Despite there being no movie theatres in Saudi Arabia, the Government has backed a Saudi film festival that’s taken place for the past few years in the eastern city of Dhahran. This year, some 60 Saudi films were screened.

The Saudi Government says the opening of movie theatres will contribute more than 90bn riyals (£17bn) to the economy and create more than 30,000 jobs by 2030.

Source Credit: The Independent

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