Visiting Saudi dignitaries have reached several deals with entertainment executives, including for AMC to open 100 movie theaters in 25 Saudi cities by 2030, it was reported Thursday.
Leaders from the Saudi General Entertainment Authority wooed industry executives Wednesday afternoon at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills, pitching the desert nation as a massive untapped opportunity, the Los Angeles Times reported. They touted the country’s population of 32 million people, who are predominantly young, technologically savvy and largely deprived of local entertainment options.
“The younger generation is very sophisticated and they are demanding more entertainment options,” said GEA Chairman Ahmed Al Khateeb, according to The Times. “You will never find a better market than Saudi Arabia.”
The event, attended by hundreds of entertainment industry executives, was part of a coast-to-coast American tour by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and his entourage of dignitaries to sell the kingdom as a nation in the midst of reforms that are meant to modernize Saudi society and diversify its oil-dependant economy, The Times reported.
During his Los Angeles visit, the 32-year-old leader is meeting with entertainment industry executives including media mogul Rupert Murdoch, talent agency boss Ari Emanuel and producer Brian Grazer to forge ties between the global media business and the conservative desert kingdom.
During a Monday night dinner party at Murdoch’s home in Bel Air, he met with show business leaders such as Walt Disney Chief Executive Bob Iger, Warner Bros. Chief Executive Kevin Tsujihara, Universal Filmed Entertainment Chairman Jeff Shell and 20th Century Fox Film Chairwoman Stacey Snider, The Times reported.
Studio executives and theater owners around the world have been eager to do business with Saudi Arabia ever since the country said four months ago it would grant licenses to open movie theaters for the first time in 35 years. Saudi Arabia in February announced plans to spend $64 billion in the coming years building water parks, themed attractions, movie theaters and other offerings.
Several deals were announced at the Beverly Hills event Wednesday, The Times reported. Cirque du Soleil said it will present its first performance in Saudi Arabia in September at the King Fahd Stadium in Riyadh. Live entertainment touring company Feld Entertainment entered a long-term agreement to produce events including “Disney on Ice” in Saudi Arabia. National Geographic Encounter said it would launch several new locations of its “Ocean Odyssey” attraction in the kingdom beginning in 2019.
The General Entertainment Authority also struck a deal with Hero Ventures and Luxury Entertainment to bring a six-month “Marvel Exerience” live tour to Riyadh and Jeddah, The Times reported.
In perhaps the most significant Saudi entertainment deal announced this week, AMC Theatres of Leawood, Kansas, the world’s largest cinema operator, said Wednesday it plans to open up to 100 theaters in 25 Saudi Arabian cities by 2030.
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