After a 35-year-old ban on cinemas, Saudi Arabia has started screening feature-length animated children’s films this weekend in a makeshift theater.
The first screening was a double-feature of The Emoji Movie and Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie at the state-run cultural hall in the Red Sea city of Jeddah. The screening is supported by supported by Saudi’s General Entertainment Authority.
The Emoji Movie and Captain Underpants may not be blockbusters and are already available for download online, but the screening is more of a symbolic change than anything else, movies are already available online from online services like Apple TV and Netflix, while others who wants to experience the comforts and convenience of a cinema, travel to neighboring countries like UAE or Bahrain.
Cinemas were banned in the early 1980s under the conservative and Islamic culture of the country, and to discourage public entertainment and public mixing between men and women.
The Kingdom expects to open 300 cinemas with 2,000 screens by 2030, creating 30,000 jobs and will contribute more than 90 billion riyals ($24 billion) to the Saudi economy. Future films will be censored in accordance to Saudi Arabia’s “moral values” and “media policy”.
Last modified: January 17, 2018