AMC Theatres Sets Sights on Saudi Arabia

The Middle Eastern kingdom announced it is lifting its longtime ban on theaters.

AMC Entertainment on Monday announced it has signed a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding to explore building theaters in Saudi Arabia hours after the Middle Eastern kingdom announced it will allow cinemas for the first time in 35 years.

AMC, the country's largest theater chain, made the agreement with The Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia. Together, they will explore a range of commercial opportunities that would support the growth of the country's entertainment sector.

“This announcement is an historic moment for the theatrical exhibition industry and a tremendous opportunity to connect AMC’s movie products with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s more than 30 million citizens, many of whom we know are movie fans based on their regular visits to cinemas in neighboring countries,” AMC CEO-president Adam Aron said in a statement.

Added a spokesman for the Public Investment Fund: “PIF sees huge potential in the Kingdom’s entertainment sector. We look forward to working with AMC Entertainment Holdings to explore opportunities in developing an industry that is expected to be around USD $1 billion in size.”

The country — undergoing seismic changes under new Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman — made its announcement earlier on Monday.

"As the industry regulator, the General Commission for Audiovisual Media has started the process for licensing cinemas in the Kingdom," minister of culture and information Awwad bin Saleh Alawwad said in a statement. "We expect the first cinemas to open in March 2018.”