IMAX signs multi-theater deal with VOX Cinemas


Saudi Gazette report

— IMAX Corporation and Dubai-based VOX Cinemas on Tuesday unveiled a four-theater deal to become Saudi Arabia's second cinema chain after AMC.

Following the Kingdom's lifting of a 35-year cinema ban, IMAX recently launched its first commercial theater with VOX Cinemas in Riyadh Park, with Avengers: Infinity War the first movie to play on its big screen. IMAX and VOX have now inked a sales deal that will see the partners open at least four commercial theaters in Saudi Arabia.

VOX, which is set to open 600 screens in the Kingdom over five years, is already committed to opening additional IMAX theaters in two malls, City Center Ishbiliyah and Mall of Saudi. The VOX deal brings IMAX’s screen count in Saudi Arabia to five as it already operates an institutional dome theater at the Sultan Bin Abdul Science Center in Al-Khobar, which opened in 2005.

IMAX is also talking with AMC about opening additional IMAX screens in its Saudi Arabian locations after the US exhibitor opened the Kingdom's first movie theater in Riyadh's King Abdullah Financial District on April 18. IMAX has already expanded elsewhere the Middle East, as VOX has IMAX locations in Mall of the Emirates in Dubai, City Center Qurum in Oman, City Center Bahrain in Bahrain and City Center Beirut in Lebanon.

Toronto-based IMAX opened its first institutional theater in the Middle East in 2000 at the Scientific Center of Kuwait, and today has a total of 32 contracted theaters in the region.

“Saudi Arabia presents an exciting and sizeable new growth opportunity for IMAX, and today’s agreement with our long-time partners at VOX Cinemas marks an important first step in our efforts to capitalize on this untapped market,” said IMAX CEO Richard L. Gelfond.

“IMAX began delivering awe-inspiring cinematic experiences to audiences in Saudi Arabia in 2005 as the sole operating theater in the country. We’ve been closely following the economic and cultural developments in the market and look forward to playing a key role in the growth of the Kingdom’s emerging entertainment sector.”

Cameron Mitchell, CEO of Majid Al-Futtaim Cinemas commented: “We’re thrilled to bring IMAX to commercial theaters in KSA for the first time. We thank the Saudi government for the faith they have placed in us and we look forward to contributing to the Saudi Vision 2030 as we support the growth of their new cinema sector.”

VOX Cinemas currently operates 322 screens across eight countries in the region. The experience-focused exhibitor was also recognized on the international stage as the recipient of the CinemaCon Global Achievement in Cinema award in 2017. Offering world-class experiences tailored to each territory, VOX Cinemas has a highly successful partnership with IMAX across many of its best-performing locations in the Gulf.

The announcement follows IMAX’s signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with Saudi Arabia’s General Culture Authority (GCA) on May 12 at the Cannes Film Festival. The GCA and IMAX will jointly seek opportunities to help Saudi studios and directors release films with cross-border appeal and eventually tap IMAX’s global distribution platform to export their films to non-Arabic markets.