×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Saudi Arabia lifts ban on cinemas

Rotana's 'Menahi' set to open on Dec. 9

Auds in Saudi Arabia can finally go to the movies again.

“Menahi,” financed and produced by Saudi Prince Waleed bin Talal‘s film shingle Rotana, is set to become the first film to be released for public viewing since cinemas were banned by religious clerics in the 1970s.

Pic will open on two screens in Jeddah and Taef on Dec. 9. A private screening will also take place at the Dammam cinema club.

Prince Waleed’s close connections with the Saudi royal family, led by the modernizing King Abdullah, were key to convincing authorities in Mecca to give the opening their blessing.

The pic’s producers are wary of drawing too much attention, however, in case of a backlash by hardliners.

“We’re worried that some of the conservatives might try to filibuster the opening,” says Rotana general manager Ayman Halawani. “But we’re still moving ahead with it.”

The $2 million pic, helmed by Ayman Makram, is the first bigscreen incarnation of popular Saudi thesp Fayez Al-Maliki‘s TV persona Menahi, a naive, humble farmer who often finds himself involved in comic escapades. It centers on Menahi’s involvement in a get-rich-quick scheme and traveling from his tribal homeland to the booming metropolis of Dubai.

Pic has already opened in neighboring Bahrain, Qatar and Kuwait.

Saudi film execs have been inching their way toward this day for many months. In May this year, the Dammam Literary Club held the the conservative kingdom’s first official film fest.

In July 2006, the privately financed Jeddah Visual Festival — which avoided the term “film” in any of its publicity — was held in front of a specially invited audience. Jeddah organizers held a soph edition last year.

More News

  • Bruno GanzSwiss Film Award in Geneva,

    Bruno Ganz, 'Downfall' and 'Wings of Desire' Star, Dies at 77

    Bruno Ganz, best known for dramatizing Adolf Hitler’s final days in “Downfall,” has died. The Swiss actor was 77 years old. The cause was reportedly colon cancer. In addition to delivering one of the definitive cinematic portrayals of the Nazi leader, Ganz played an angel who gives up immortality to experience earthly pleasures in Wim [...]

  • Bruno GanzSwiss Film Award in Geneva,

    Bruno Ganz, Star of 'Downfall' and 'Wings of Desire,' Dies at 77

    Bruno Ganz, the Swiss actor whose portrayal of Adolf Hitler in 2004’s “Downfall” made him an international star, has died. He was 77. Ganz died at home in Zurich on Friday, his management told various media outlets. Ganz was a familiar figure in German-language cinema, with a career spanning nearly 60 years. In addition to [...]

  • Alibaba Buys 8% Stake in Chinese

    Alibaba Buys 8% Stake in Chinese Video Platform Bilibili

    Alibaba has purchased an 8% stake in the Chinese online video platform Bilibili, the official Xinhua news agency reported. Bilibili is one of China’s top video streaming and entertainment platforms, with about 92 million monthly active users and 450 million page-views per day. Founded in 2009, it was listed on the NASDAQ last March. Alibaba’s [...]

  • Steve Bannon appears in The Brink

    Sundance Film Review: Stephen K. Bannon in 'The Brink'

    Stephen K. Bannon drinks Kombucha (who knew?), the fermented tea beverage for health fanatics that tastes like…well, if they ever invented a soft drink called Germs, that’s what Kombucha tastes like. In “The Brink,” Alison Klayman’s fly-on-the-wall, rise-and-fall-and-rise-of-a-white-nationalist documentary, Bannon explains that he likes Kombucha because it gives him a lift; he drinks it for [...]

  • Walt Disney Archives Founder Dave Smith

    Walt Disney Archives Founder Dave Smith Dies at 78

    Walt Disney Archives founder Dave Smith, the historian who spent 40 years cataloging and preserving the company’s legacy of entertainment and innovation, died Friday in Burbank, Calif. He was 78. Smith served as Disney’s chief archivist from 1970 to 2010. He was named a Disney Legend in 2007 and served as a consultant to the [...]

  • Jussie Smollett The Black AIDS Insitute

    Jussie Smollett Case: Two Suspects Released Without Charges as New Evidence Emerges

    After two days of questioning, the Chicago Police Department announced Friday evening that it has released two suspects in the Jussie Smollett case without filing charges. Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said that detectives had developed new information in the case. Police no longer consider the men to be suspects. “Due to new evidence as a [...]

  • Oscar OScars Placeholder

    Cinematographers Praise Academy Reversal: 'We Thank You for Your Show of Respect'

    Cinematographers who fought the decision to curtail four Oscar presentations have praised the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for reversing the exclusions. “We thank you for your show of respect for the hard-working members of the film community, whose dedication and exceptional talents deserve the public recognition this reversal now allows them to enjoy,” [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content