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How the Saudi box office provided a rare boost to the global cinema industry in 2020

Cinema box office takings in Saudi Arabia saw an increase last year despite the devastating impact of coronavirus on the global entertainment industry.

According to research by PriceWaterhouseCooper (PwC), the Saudi box office was up by 3 percent in 2020 to $115 million.

Globally, the combined revenues in the box office industry plummeted by 28.5 percent to roughly $31 billion last year, from $42.5 billion in 2019.

The PwC figures also predicted that cinema box office revenues in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region are expected to grow by 4 percent to $1 billion by 2024, compared to a 2.4 percent decline worldwide.

The increase in Saudi receipts comes as the number of cinema screens in Saudi Arabia is expected to grow to 2,500 screens by 2030.

The figures have been released ahead of the 4th META Cinema Forum which takes place from October 26-28, 2021 at Atlantis, The Palm, Dubai.

The three-day convention takes place just a few weeks into Dubai Expo 2020 – the largest event in the Middle East and Africa region and will address key issues and highlight the development of the cinema industry.

The Middle East and Africa region has one of the fastest growing entertainment industries in the world and where governments are investing heavily to diversify economies and reduce dependency on a single economic sector.

Organisers said the event will bring all the stakeholders on a single platform to brainstorm the recovery of the industry and identify opportunities going forward. It will host seminars, awards, premieres of new movies, as well as showcasing new products and exclusive slate content presentations.

Ignace Lahoud, CEO of Majid Al Futtaim, Leisure, Entertainment and Cinemas, said: “The industry is experiencing a resurgence and admissions are on the upswing with the release of much-awaited blockbusters and local films. We are looking to the future with confidence as the region is set to become an important contributor to the global box office.”

Expansion throughout the Arab world and Middle East, specifically in Saudi Arabia, has unlocked a lucrative economic opportunity and Saudi Arabia has now become a major contributor to the growth of the global cinema industry.

“As life returns to normal following an 18-month Covid-19 pandemic, we are happy to announce that the 4th META Cinema Forum is getting ready to welcome all industry stakeholders in Dubai – where we have lined up an exciting series of fun-filled events including thought-provoking discussions, and film premieres,” said Leila Masinaei, managing partner, Great Minds Event Management.

“The forthcoming edition of the META Cinema Forum will set the tone for the industry recovery, growth and development of the film entertainment industry as governments and the private sector players are mobilising resources for the next stage of the development of the cinema industry in the Middle East and Africa region.” Arabian Business

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