Box office revenue exceeded $500 million in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region last year, according to a research by PriceWaterhouseCooper (PwC).
That total is expected to grow in the years to come, following Saudi Arabia’s decision in December 2017 to end a more than three-decade ban on cinemas in the kingdom.
Still, box office receipts from the region only accounted for 1.25% of total global box office revenues from last year.
Receipts reached $39.9 billion worldwide, up 3% from 2016, according to media analytics firm ComScore.
Meanwhile, North America recorded $11.1 billion in box office revenues, down 2.3% from the year prior, while China enjoyed record total ticket sales of $8.59 billion.
PwC and ComScore released the figures this week as part of the lead up to the MENA Cinema Forum, a new cinema industry gathering taking place later this month in Dubai that will focus on growth opportunities in the region.
The event comes as interest in the Middle East’s movie industry has picked up significantly this year following Saudi Arabia’s decision to once again award licenses to cinema operators.
The Saudi government anticipates that 300 cinemas will open by 2030, which could contribute $24 billion to the economy and create 30,000 jobs.
“There is a strong growth pipeline of new cinemas in the region, primarily driven by the opening of [the] Saudi Arabian market,” said Martin Berlin, a partner at PWC, in a statement.
Industry players have lined up to cash in on the opportunity, starting with US cinema operator AMC. Majid Al Futtaim’s VOX Cinemas said it is investing over $540 million to open 600 screens in the next five years in Saudi Arabia.
Meanwhile, the Development and Investment Entertainment Company, a subsidiary of Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, intends to invest up to $2.7 billion in entertainment projects across the kingdom by 2030.
Source Credit: Forbes