RIYADH: AMC Cinemas held an event at their new Panorama Mall location on Sunday evening to celebrate their second cinema opening in the Kingdom. The ten-screen, 800-seat theater has started selling tickets to the public, with screenings of films to begin tomorrow.
Guests were treated to a sneak peek at the cinema’s facilities, a chance to sample the food options on offer at the concessions stand, and a screening of their choice of some of the latest films in cinemas, such as “Dark Water,” “Jumanji: The Next Level,” and “Ford v Ferrari”.
During the opening ceremony, Adom Aron, CEO of AMC, welcomed guests to “our prettiest theater” and declared the cinema officially open.
He also revealed AMC’s future plans in the Kingdom. “We now have two theaters open in Riyadh, but we expect to open between eight and ten theaters by June, between 12 and 20 theaters next year, and 50 theaters in the next three, four years, and we expect to be the biggest and most luxurious cinema operator in Saudi Arabia,” he said.
Minister of Media Turki Al-Shabanah was also in attendance, and thanked Aron for helping him make his vision a reality.
“It’s my pleasure, seriously, to be next to you, with your expertise and your achievements worldwide, to open this beautiful luxury cinema here in Riyadh,” he said.
The AMC locations in the Kingdom are a result of a collaboration between the Development and Investment Entertainment Company (DEIC), a wholly owned subsidiary of the Public Investment Fund (PIF) and the US cinema chain.
The Panorama Mall location is the chain’s second location in Saudi Arabia. The first is located in the King Abdullah Financial District, which became the first cinema to officially open in the country on April 18 of 2018.
However, since then, competitor Vox Cinemas has already opened 7 locations in Saudi Arabia, with several more planned and in development.
AMC Marketing Manager Mishal Alsowayan echoed Aron’s statement that AMC was definitely looking to expand in the region: “We’re very happy to open AMC Panorama tonight, and we’re looking forward to opening more and more locations soon.”
However, many are hoping that the opening of a new location for AMC Cinemas will make for actual competition between Vox and AMC, giving people more of a choice in which cinema they will go to.
Movie afficionado and frequent cinema visitor Salman Al-Abdullatif told Arab News that he was hoping to see better customer service and decreased cinema prices if the two cinema chains became competitive.
He also pointed out that Vox essentially made the rules for moviegoers in the Kingdom, and was hoping they would loosen up on some of their policies now that competition was on its way.
“I go to the cinema at least once a week, and I’m always put off by how expensive it is each time. I also find it kind of unfair that they charge for things like 3D glasses when you’re going to see a 3D movie like having the glasses is optional, or the fact that they don’t ever issue refunds in any case. I’m hoping that will change if people aren’t forced to settle for one cinema option,” he said.
And indeed, not all cinema seats are created equal. AMC’s facilities are decidedly more luxurious than those of Vox, with comparable prices. A premium seat at Vox Cinemas will set you back SR60 ($16) while an AMC standard ticket is SR55, and a luxe seat is SR65. AMC’s luxe option is comparable to Vox’s Gold option, which will set you back SR140 for just the seat, with additional costs for food and beverages from the chain’s gourmet food bar, ThEATre by Rhodes.
However, another moviegoer, Samar Aljadid, argues that the experience is worth the price, and she is waiting to see if AMC is up to snuff.
“When I go to the cinema, I’m treating myself. It should feel luxurious. Yes, it’s expensive, which is why I don’t go often, but in my opinion going to the cinema is a rare treat, and when I go, I want to go all out. I don’t mind paying a higher price, but I’d better be getting everything I paid for,” she said.
Tickets for the Panorama Mall cinema, as well as the newly reopened and redecorated KAFD location are available on AMC’s official website.