Saudi Arabia Ends Cinema Ban for Black Panther

by Chris Braly

Marvel Studios' Black Panther - Official Trailer
One of our favorite contributors, Douglas Ernst, while writing for the Washington Times, notes that the latest superhero offering from the MCU has become the catalyst for a major change in the culture of Saudi Arabia.

Disney and Marvel Studios‘ latest superhero movie has managed to do something no other Hollywood project has done in 35 years: break Saudi Arabia’s 35-year cinema ban.

“Black Panther” has generated nearly $1.3 billion in revenue since its February release, but the Ryan Coogler-directed film will make history April 18 by raking in cash in Riyadh. Movie theaters were banned in the kingdom in the early 1980s.

AMC Entertainment plans to open up to “40 cinemas in Saudi Arabia within five years and up to 100 theaters in Saudi Arabia by the year 2030,” Variety reported Thursday.

The decision is part of a broader cultural initiative spearheaded by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Cinemas in Saudi were shut down following the country’s adoption of hardline religious legal codes in the early 80s. However, the latest development is a part of an ambitious plan of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman who has started a huge drive to reinvent and reform the ultra-conservative country. He has also announced that women would be permitted to drive in Saudi Arabia from June 2018, another move that will upset the Islamic hardliners in the Kingdom.

Our social media coordinator supposed that since Black Panther tells the story of a benevolent monarch trying to reform his country, while respecting tradition, and fighting off violent extremists with a bit of help from the CIA, this Marvel superhero film sounds like it couldn’t have been better suited to break Saudi’s cinema ban.

Black Panther will receive its gala opening on April 18 in Saudi Arabia’s brand new AMC theater in Riyadh, the country’s capital.

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Chris Braly

I'm one opinionated, based geek. I try to steer this tiny ship and can often be heard monthly on the Comic Book Page Previews Spotlight podcast with several fellow "comic book nerds." Follow me on Twitter @ChrisBraly. My preferred adjectives are brilliant/beautiful.