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Cinema makes a return to Saudi after 35 years


AFP
Riyadh
Saudi Arabia hosted its first public film screening in over 35 years on Friday, two days after US movie giant AMC unveiled the kingdom's debut theatre in Riyadh.
Clutching prized tickets for the sold-out showing of Hollywood blockbuster action film"Black Panther", men and women walked into the movie hall with tubs of popcorn and fizzy drinks.
AMC chief executive Adam Aron on Wednesday said its multiplex theatre at Riyadh's King Abdullah Financial District will for now operate one screen with a seating capacity of around 250. He said plans were afoot for three more screens in the coming months.
Reopening movie theatres is part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's ambitious reform drive as he seeks to balance unpopular subsidy cuts in an era of low oil prices with more entertainment options.
The choice of"Black Panther", a film about a young monarch of a fictional resource-rich African kingdom, has drawn parallels with the Saudi prince.
On social media, many Saudis complained that the ticket price of 75 Saudi riyals ($20), which included a new entertainment tax and value-added tax introduced this year, was too exorbitant in an age of austerity.

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