Both men and women took in the on-screen action at the invitation-only event.

It’s already made headlines as the highest-grossing film of 2018, as well as the 10th highest-grossing film of all time.

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The American-made blockbuster became the first film screened at Saudi Arabia’s first commercial movie theatre, ending the kingdom’s 35-year ban on cinemas.

 

Government officials, VIPs and industry insiders attended the invitation-only gala on April 18, Reuters reports, held at a converted symphony concert hall in Riyadh.

The cinema will open to the public on Friday, operator AMC Entertainment Holdings revealed, and judging by pictures taken this week, the theatre is not segregated by gender.

saudi cinema black panther

Initial screenings are likely to be for families, with occasional ones for bachelors, Reuters reported.

“Saudis now are going to be able to go to a beautiful theatre and watch movies the way they’re supposed to be watched: on a big screen,” Adam Aron, chief executive of AMC Entertainment Holdings, told the news agency.

The Saudi Ministry of Culture and Information revealed earlier this month that it will open around 40 movie theatres across the kingdom in the next five years.

“The restoration of cinemas will … help boost the local economy by increasing household spending on entertainment while supporting job creation in the Kingdom,” Culture and Information Minister Awwad Alawwad said in a statement.

The move comes as part of Vision 2030, the kingdom’s post-oil economy plan under which the government aims to increase the percentage of women in the nation’s workforce from 23 per cent to 28 per cent by 2020.

The initiative, spearheaded by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, aims to make Saudi a more modern, tourist-friendly destination.

Under the plans, King Salman issued a historic royal decree in September, allowing females the right to lawfully gain driving licences in the kingdom from June 2018.

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Women will be able to attend sports events in stadiums in three cities from this year, and female students in the kingdom are now allowed to carry their phones while on campus.

Additionally, more Saudi females have been appointed to top jobsa royal directive allowed women to use certain government services without a male guardian’s consent, and recent approval was issued for the go-ahead of women’s gyms.