JEDDAH: Few people are more ready for the opening of Saudi’s first cinema in more than 35 years than Maher Mosly, a Jeddah-based film blogger with a YouTube channel dedicated to his reviews in Arabic.
Mosly began reviewing films in 2014, watching films on iTunes about three months after release and traveling to Dubai every few months to watch batches of the big new releases. He saw Black Panther in Dubai, and believes it is an ideal choice for the new cinema’s first screening.
“No other movie suits the occasion as much as Black Panther does. It is a great choice because until now, we do not know the criterion that will be applied in cinemas here. Of course there will be regulations on what is safe to show, whether it is political or too different from Saudi culture.
“Black Panther is a safe choice: it is suitable for ages 13 and above, families can enjoy it, it has no controversial themes and is completely a fantasy genre.”
He predicted that cinemas will be popular due to their novelty. “Tickets will sell, consumption will be high.”
The new cinemas will also boost the film industry in the Kingdom. “Our movies are revealed at global festivals, but they are short films, and we never get a chance to see them. With the cinemas finally opening in the Kingdom, we will go into the industry. There will be professional institutes for theater, voice-acting etc,” Mosly said.
“It won’t be something you do to pass the time any more,” he added. “It will be a profession from the start. We will have producers.”
Saudi film fans will no longer have to travel to neighbouring Gulf countries for screenings. “In Bahrain or Dubai, most who attend the cinemas are Saudis,” Mosly pointed out.
“I believe that in a year, our cinemas will be more like the ones all over the Gulf countries. Dubai is doing a great job. It’s not accepting all movies, but not rejecting all movies either. Big movies are entering their cinemas, but with the necessary restrictions of course,” he said.
“Cinemas are never not a part of entertainment around the world. The easiest entertainment plan I can think of is to take my wife and kids out for dinner and later go to the movies. Cinemas are essential to entertainment.”