Wake up to what matters from Mike Allen each day

Stories

Lifting of Saudi Arabia's movie ban signals cultural shift

Saudi ministers and AMC executives at the first movie screening in the country since the 1980s. Photo: Bandar Algaloud/Saudi Kingdom Council/Handout/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Hollywood blockbuster "Black Panther" premiered in Saudi Arabia's first movie theater for the first time on Wednesday evening in a groundbreaking moment for the country, AP's Aya Batrawy reports from Riyadh.

Why it matters: The screening was private and invitation-only, but it was a clear marker of change in the country as it ushers in a new era of progressivism for the country.

  • "[I]t's a stark reversal for a country where public movie screenings were banned in the 1980s during a wave of ultraconservatism."
  • "It's seen as part of a new era in which women will soon be allowed to drive and people in the kingdom will be able to go to concerts and fashion shows."
  • But, but, but: "Movies screened in Saudi cinemas will be subject to approval by government censors, and Wednesday night's premiere was no exception. Scenes of violence were not cut, but a final scene involving a kiss was axed."
More stories loading.