The No. 1 in Mid-East & World's 15th largest Saudi Cinema Theatre industry expects US$1.2 billion

Saudi Arabia's cinema market has been growing under its Vision 2030, and today, Saudi Arabia leads the Arab World in the cinema theatre sector. Its market is expected to reach US$1.2 billion by 2030. Moreover, the number of cinema screens in Saudi Arabia is predicted to grow to 2,500 by 2030.

The No. 1 in Mid-East & World's 15th largest Saudi Cinema Theatre industry expects US$1.2 billion
Sameera Aziz Saudi Media person, poet & writer, and the chairperson of Sameera Aziz Group of Companies

By Sameera Aziz | Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

 

Saudi Arabia's cinema market has been growing under its Vision 2030, and today, Saudi Arabia leads the Arab World in the cinema theatre sector. Its market is expected to reach US$1.2 billion by 2030. Moreover, the number of cinema screens in Saudi Arabia is predicted to grow to 2,500 by 2030. 

According to market tracker Ventures ONSITE, "the Box office revenues in the MENA region are expected to grow by a 4 percent compound annual rate to $1 billion between 2019 and 2024, compared with a 2.4 percent decline worldwide". 

Since the film reopened in Saudi Arabia in April 2018, this industry has emerged. As a result, it has become far ahead of other neighboring countries regarding per capita income and growth rate in terms of moviegoers. 

In addition, considering the food & beverages sales and other incentives such as advertising, the revenue of this sector can be estimated up to one and a half billion by 2030. 

As per the facts & figures, the media reported that Saudi Arabia had become a milestone in the cinema market. It is among the 15 largest markets in the World and the first in the Middle East. In just ten months last year, the Saudi box office achieved about 700 million riyals, topping the Middle East countries in terms of box office revenues as the most profitable region.

In addition, the Saudi Cinema theatre industry was able to record remarkable growth in ticket sales by maintaining a high demand for cinemas. The number of tickets sold during the year 2021 exceeded 11 million Tickets, so Saudi Arabia continues to monopolize the lead in the Middle East.

The statement of Cameron Mitchell, CEO of VOX Cinemas, surprised the World during Corona's disaster time when he said at the META Cinema Forum exhibitors' conference in Dubai that Saudi Cinema is topping the list of the most profitable in the region. 

"We believe that Saudi Arabia is the only cinema market globally to have expanded in 2020," he said while revealing the fresh figures of that time. While box office returned in 2020 suffered an estimated 80% global drop due to the Corona pandemic, Saudi Arabia was bucking this downward trend, having grown since 2019 to become the Middle East's top grossing territory that year. 

Realizing the worth of Saudi Cinema theaters' future, the Cinema industry experts and leaders assembled to examine and discuss Saudi Arabia's strategy for the US$1.2 billion industry in a conference called "Fourth Cinema Build KSA Conference" in May 2022 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. According to the official facts presented there, "since its launch in April 2018, the Saudi Film Commission has licensed 56 theatres with 518 screens in 20 cities, in which 1,144 films were shown, including 22 Saudi films, with the ticket sales amounting to 30,860,956 (and) films in 22 languages from 38 countries".

Mohamed Al Hashemi (the Country Head, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Majid Al Futtaim Leisure, Entertainment, Cinemas, and Lifestyle company) said that the opening of the cinema industry in the last four years had laid the foundations for long-term growth. "Exhibitors have an opportunity to capitalize on this and invigorate the Kingdom's entertainment sector," he stated at the Fourth Cinema Build KSA Conference.

According to my social observation and the public response, it is sure that the Cinema has been successfully becoming an integral part of Saudi Arabian art & culture. The reason is apparent. Vision 2030 supports it, so it is a target & mission for progress. The social behavior is cinema-positive. The Saudi & expatriate Public is too fond of Cinema. Socially, people like the nightlife and enjoy the entertainment in the nighttime in Saudi Arabia. 

And above all, most of the Saudi population is based on young people who are media friendly and like to watch movies. With two-thirds of Saudi Arabia's 35 million population under 30 years of age, the Cinema industry seems to expand further as film & theatre target the young demographic.

I believe that soon, Saudi Arabia will become a preferred destination among regional & international film professionals. Furthermore, many filmmakers from around the World will choose Saudi Arabia to shoot their movies because Saudi Arabia has unique, attractive & virgin locations. 

Saudi Arabia is a more extraordinary country in the Middle East, with an enormous population and development than others in this region. Also, the footsteps of tourists, visitors, and pilgrims are permanent & substantial. These significant factors, from a business point of view, make the Saudi Arabian Films & Cinema industry of vital value. 

Soon, we will see that most film distributors will choose to premiere their movies in Saudi Arabia, thanks to the development of its film industry. The Saudi and wider region also have a wealth of emerging talent and creative voices bringing Arabic films to global audiences. This thriving scene is about to get another boost through the upcoming growth of the Saudi Film & Cinema Industry. 

According to the media reports, the Saudi Arabian Films & Cinema industry, the first of its kind, has a clear potential to spearhead growth in the Middle East by attracting celebrities, global talent, and movie fans. It can successfully bring the best of Hollywood, Bollywood, European, Asian, Korean, Chinese, Pakistani, and African films and movie stars under one roof.

We can see that Saudi Arabia has moved forward to serve as a one-stop shop for the local cinemas providing business opportunities & networking. It aims to be the most significant linkage between cinema stakeholders in the Middle East and the learning center for making world-class cinema theaters. 

As per the ambitious Saudi strategy and facts & figures, the country seems to become one of the World's top 20 film industries in the next few years. The Saudi Film Commission announced in November 2021 to boost the country's entertainment industry "as a world-class film hub with a target to build an industry with a revenue of $500 million."

The Saudi cinema industry with great potential is growing steadily and rapidly, led by outstanding leadership and experts. It is undoubtedly on its apparent path to becoming the leader in the region, with an incredible amount of groundwork done in the past four years. As a result, it has already gained attention from cinema stakeholders from across the globe. 

Saudi Arabia has been trying to encourage and guide stakeholders in the cinema industry to develop a substantial business model catering specifically to Saudi Arabian Cinema & film-loving audiences. Hence, there have been many international seminars, workshops, and expert sessions kept going on. These events consist of innovative symposiums highlighting the latest solutions, technologies, and critical innovations for guiding the right way forward. Such events help unite stakeholders on a single platform to brainstorm the industry's continued development, identify opportunities, and discuss developing strategies, road-map, and construction of world-class cinemas. It is an excellent time for stakeholders to take advantage of their business. 

(About Author: Sameera Aziz is a Saudi Media person, poet & writer, and the chairperson of Sameera Aziz Group of Companies. She can be reached at consultant.sameera.aziz@gmail.com)