"Black Panther" graces Saudi cinema to end decades-long ban

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The release of "Black Panther" marks a crucial moment in the evolution of Saudi Vision 2030, a project initiated by the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman after the release of "Black Panther" as an initiative to modernize and liberalize the country by the year 2030.

"We heard that the kingdom of Saudi Arabia was thinking about lifting its ban on movie theaters, and we rushed in".

Women will only be allowed to teach other women how to drive in Saudi Arabia.

It's not clear whether "Black Panther" will undergo a similar censorship for Wednesday's screening, which will be attended by diplomats, industry insiders, the press and the CEO of AMC Entertainment, Adam Aron. The kingdom held its first-ever fashion show last week with a women-only audience.

'We hope over the next five years to be opening some 40 movie theaters in different cities, which should total 100 theaters, target planned for 2030, explained Alawwad. In 1983, the ban on publicly released cinema arose as a result of stricter laws banning the co-mingling of men and women in public spaces.

The test screening will consist of a series of trial runs before the movie will be available to the wider public in May.

In 2017, the government said it would lift the ban as part of reforms that aim to keep money in the country that Saudis now spend on entertainment in trips to Dubai, Bahrain and elsewhere.

Authorities are planning an invitation-only screening of the movie in a concert hall that's been converted into a cinema complex in the capital, Riyadh.

The kingdom expects to have more than 300 movie theaters by 2030, and theaters could reportedly open to the public as soon as next month.

Others expressed confusion at what they consider a government flip-flop, with one tweeting on Wednesday: "Remember you will stand in front of God. and you will bear the sins of all those who watched the movies". Some also view cinema and acting, as a form of dissembling and inconsistent with Islam.

Initial screenings are likely to be for families with some occasional ones for bachelors.

"We greatly look forward to serving the people of Saudi Arabia with truly world-class theaters all across the Kingdom".

Asked about possible conservative backlash to cinemas, Awwad said the government was focused on creating investment opportunities. "And for those who don't want to watch movies at all, it's also their personal choice".