×

Vox Cinemas to Open 110 Screens in Saudi Arabia This Year (EXCLUSIVE)

Middle East exhibitor Vox Cinemas is on track to open 110 screens in Saudi Arabia by year’s end as the oil-rich kingdom continues to liberalize its entertainment environment.

Vox unveiled its second Saudi multiplex Jan. 28, a luxurious 12-screen facility in the city of Jeddah’s Red Sea Mall. The multiplex houses more than 1,450 seats and an Imax with Laser screen that is currently the largest film-going facility in Saudi.

Vox CEO Cameron Mitchell said the company would open three more locations, including a multiplex featuring all premium cinemas and gourmet dining in Riyadh’s iconic Kingdom Tower, during the first quarter of this year. In the Saudi capital, Riyadh, Vox will also soon unveil a 15-screen facility in Al Qasr Mall and an eight-screen multiplex in The Roof Mall.

Mitchell said Vox has committed to opening cinemas in 10 Saudi cities, including Dammam, Taif and Tabuk, as part of its announced plan to invest more than $500 million to open 600 screens by 2023.

“The Saudi population is young and enthusiastic about the cinema and movies, and Vox Cinemas’ key differentiator is that we know what appeals to the Saudi audience as we have been serving them in our other regional locations for years,” Mitchell told Variety.

Vox was granted its first license to operate in the kingdom in April 2018 following the removal of a 35-year ban on cinemas, part of a drive by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to transform Saudi society. That month, Vox opened its first multiplex in the Riyadh Park mall with four screens, including the country’s first Imax screen.

Mitchell said the multiplex has recorded a 95% occupancy rate so far and screened 82 titles, including the first 3D movie shown in Saudi Arabia, “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom”; the first horror film, “A Quiet Place”; the first Egyptian film, comedy “El Badla”; and the first Bollywood blockbuster, “Kaala.”

The Vox chief declined to comment whether he was concerned that a backlash in Hollywood against the murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi could impact the supply of studio product and/or promotional treks to Saudi Arabia by U.S. talents.

He said the country is “expected to become a significant box office market worth $1 billion within a relatively short time frame.”

Vox’s main competitors in the country are AMC Cinemas, which in early April 2018 opened the first Saudi multiplex in Riyadh but has yet to open another one despite plans for up to 40 Saudi cinemas in five years, and the Al-Rashed Empire Cinema Consortium, which has obtained a license and announced plans for 30 cinemas.

More Biz

  • Harvey Mason Jr.., Chair of the

    Grammy Board Chief Calls Allegations of Nomination-Rigging ‘Just Not Right’

    Among the many allegations in ousted Recording Academy CEO Deborah Dugan’s blockbuster legal complaint, the one that possibly cuts most to the heart of the institution — and is of most concern to artists and the public — is the allegation that the nominating process is “rigged.” The example in the complaint points to the [...]

  • Annabella Sciorra

    Friend Tells of Annabella Sciorra's Mid-1990s Struggles at Harvey Weinstein Trial

    A longtime friend of Annabella Sciorra testified Friday in Harvey Weinstein’s criminal trial that the actor turned to cutting herself and exhibited other troubling behavior in the mid-1990s after she was allegedly raped by the disgraced film mogul. The defense questioning of model Kara Young got heated as Judge James Burke sustained repeated objections to [...]

  • Writers vs Agents Packaging War WGA

    Judge Doubts WGA Claim That Packaging Fees Are Kickbacks

    A federal judge seemed skeptical on Friday of the Writers Guild of America’s claim that packaging fees amount to a criminal kickback to agents. Judge Andre Birotte heard more than two hours of arguments from attorneys for the guild and three agencies: WME, UTA and CAA. He said he would issue a ruling at a [...]

  • Songs for Screens Powered by Mac

    Songs for Screens: Why Aerosmith Is Still Gold for Synchs

    Aerosmith’s star-studded tribute concert as the 2020 MusiCares Person of the Year honorees on Friday night (January 24) will cement another important milestone in the historic Boston-founded band’s contributions to the American rock canon. But over the past decade, some of the band’s best-known music has remained part of the cultural conversation through some of [...]

  • Sirius Logo

    Radio Hall of Famer Kid Kelly Leaves SiriusXM After Two Decades

    In a surprise move, veteran programmer, on-air personality and Radio Hall of Famer Kid Kelly has left SiriusXM after nearly 20 years with the radio giant, a rep for the company has confirmed to Variety. The news was first reported by RAMP. He most recently served as SiriusXM’s VP of Pop Music Programming. “After a [...]

  • Shanghai Disneyland

    Shanghai Disneyland Closes in Response to China Virus Outbreak

    Shanghai Disneyland will close its doors Saturday as a reaction to the spread of a form of coronavirus that has now killed 26 people in mainland China. The resort complex, which normally operates 365 days per year and welcomes more than 10 million visitors annually, announced Friday afternoon local time that it will shutter the [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content