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'Black Panther' Opens In Saudi Arabia's First Movie Theater In Over 35 Years

‘Black Panther’ Opens In Saudi Arabia’s First Movie Theater In Over 35 Years

Marvel blockbuster Black Panther made history this week when it became one of the first films to screen in the the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia since movie theaters were banned 35 years ago.

The first screening took place on Wednesday with invitation-only gala event at a luxurious new AMC theater in the capital city of Riyadh. It was the first in a series of test screenings after a ban on cinemas was lifted last year, The Guardian reports. The screenings will be open to the public after the testing.

Movie theatres are expected to open to the public in May as a part of Saudi Prince Mohammed’s plans to diversify the economy and enact social change. 

“This is a historic day for AMC. This is a historic day for your country,” AMC chief executive, Adam Aron told the audience at the first screening. “Welcome to the era when movies can be watched by Saudis not in Bahrain, not in Dubai, not in London … but inside the kingdom.”

The Ryan Coogler-directed flick surpassed Titanic earlier this month to become the third highest-grossing movie ever at the North American box office. It is now behind only Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Avatar, the no. 1 and no. 2 movies respectively.

Globally, Black Panther has grossed over $1.29 billion, becoming the no. 10 highest grossing title of all time.