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Imax, AMC Size Up Saudi Market as Kingdom Opens Up to Theaters

  • First multiplexes to open in March 2018; 2,000 screens by 2030
  • Saudi clerics have frowned upon non-religious entertainment
Light trails from automobile traffic traveling along the King Fahd highway, left, and Olaya Street, right, lead towards the Kingdom Tower, center rear, in Riyadh on Dec. 1, 2016.
Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg
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Imax Corp. and AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. are among movie-theater companies interested in expanding into Saudi Arabia, which said this week it will allow commercial cinemas for the first time in more than 35 years.

AMC, based in Leawood, Kansas, agreed to explore potential investments with the kingdom’s public investment fund. “Saudi Arabia represents a lucrative business opportunity,” Chief Executive Officer Adam Aron said in a statement Monday. Imax, which operates the only theater in Saudi Arabia, airing educational films at a science center, said it’s already been approached by chains about building more theaters.