IMAX Corporation and Saudi Arabia's General Culture Authority (GCA) today agreed a preliminary deal to jointly seek opportunities to identify and develop local IMAX format films. The non-exclusive Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) comes under the authority’s efforts to develop the film sector after a cinema ban was lifted at the end of last year.
The draft agreement comes under the authority’s efforts to develop a dynamic and sustainable film industry in Saudi Arabia. Under the Vision 2030 goals, the Kingdom has seen the opening of the first new cinemas in 35 years and launched an official film council. The film council has so far launched a national grants programme and a partnership scheme for talented film makers.
IMAX will also explore the establishment of a film-technology lab to train and work with Saudi filmmakers on Imax-format documentaries and Arabic-language films that showcase the kingdom’s geography, culture and heritage, as well as the filmmakers themselves. IMAX has taken this approach in markets such as China and India with some success, alowing them to re-master regional blockbusters in the IMAX format for both in-country distribution and to a wider global network.
The second new cinema to open in the kingdom featured Saudi Arabia’s first IMAX screen. UAE based retail giant, Majid Al Futtaim’s Vox Cinemas opened the location in the newly opened Riyadh Park shopping mall. Vox Cinemas had last month, revealed plans to invest SAR2bn ($533m) over the next five years for opening up to 600 screens in Saudi Arabia.
IMAX's first commercial multiplex theatre together with VOX Cinemas in Riyadh opened on April 30, with its debut timed to the release of Marvel's Avengers: Infinity War. IMAX operates 20 theatres in the Middle East which are some of the region's top-performing screens.
“I expect to have 20 to 30 theaters there in three to five years there, which would be our biggest territory in the Middle East,” Imax CEO Rich Gelfond told Variety earlier, on Friday.