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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."