Cinescape Cinemas, the exhibition arm of Front Row Filmed Entertainment and the Kuwait National Cinema Co., has joined the pack of businesses looking to open theaters in Saudi Arabia.
Cinescape revealed Thursday that it was in final negotiations to launch the first phase of 27 screens by the fourth quarter of 2018 across strategic locations in the three most prominent Saudi cities of Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam. While the first phase is being finalized, KNCC is in negotiations with estate entities to secure additional multiplexes as well as stand-alone cinemas across the country.
KNCC’s real estate holding company Tamdeen Group, one of the biggest listed companies in the region, already operates several malls, along with banks, hotels and investment firms. The Kuwaiti National Cinema Co. was the first entertainment entity to launch in the Persian Gulf region, in 1954, and has a 91 percent theatrical market share in Kuwait.
“There is a high influx of Saudi audiences that flock to Kuwait to experience the cinema here because of the films we are able to show and the high standards of the sites themselves, so we have a keen understanding and appreciation of their tastes and habits that will translate automatically to the cinemas we have secured over there and the expansion thereafter,” said KNCC’s Hisham Al Ghanim.
Added Front Row’s Gianluca Chakra: “Along with these distribution lines, there is a potential to grow once the lay of the land has settled. Front Row’s outside-the-box exhibition and distribution model can only help enhance the Saudi expansion. [Add] to that the strong Egyptian catalog and the burgeoning market of original content development we are closely working on together and you will find that there is substantial potential for growth in the [region].”
The news comes just days after London-based Vue International announced it would be entering the Saudi market, and two months after the country famously revealed it would be ending its 35-year ban on public cinemas.