RIYADH, January 29 (CIC) – As the latest cinema multiplex opened this week in Saudi Arabia, in the port city of Jeddah, the Kingdom’s existing movie theatres are recording impressive attendance figures, with sell-out crowds on most days, official statistics show.
One year after the ban on cinemas in Saudi Arabia was lifted, Vox, the Dubai-based exhibition outfit, expanded into the port city of Jeddah, opening a major 12-screen venue in Jeddah’s Red Sea Mall on Monday night. This is Jeddah’s first cinema and the Kingdom’s sixth to be opened in the past year.
According to the General Commission for Audiovisual Media (GCAM), the government body charged with developing and regulating the audiovisual industry for Saudi Arabia, some 77% of moviegoers are families with the rest being singles. As was predicted, the return of cinemas to Saudi Arabia has proven to be a huge success with both families and single moviegoers. In less than a year, combined monthly attendance at the Kingdom’s screens is averaging 59,000 ticket buyers. In addition to Vox, other exhibitors to enter the Saudi exhibition sector include the US-based AMC and the Saudi concern, Al-Rashed Empire Cinema Consortium.
“About 59,000 people watch movies in these halls each month of which 77% are families and the rest singles,” GCAM said. “These halls bring all kinds of Arabic and western blockbusters.”
The newly opened Vox multiplex in Jeddah has the region’s first cinema dedicated to children. The multiplex is expected to show some 300 English, Arabic and Indian films annually of various genres.
On behalf of Minister of Media and Chairman of the General Commission for Audiovisual Media Turki Al-Shabana, the Chief Executive of the GCAM Badr Al-Zahrani inaugurated the first cinema in Jeddah at the Red Sea Mall, according to the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA). The event was attended by prominent local and international figures in the film industry and the media.
Saudi Arabia has charted a future with some radical breaks from its restrictive past, seeking to diversify its economy away from dependence on government programs and oil revenues. The Kingdom’s new economic model relies on public-private partnerships, privatization of many government-run companies, entertainment, tourism, entrepreneurship, technology and non-oil exports.