MENA box office takings exceed $500m, to rise further on Saudi plans

PwC report highlights strong growth pipeline of new cinemas in the region, primarily driven by the opening of Saudi market
MENA box office takings exceed $500m, to rise further on Saudi plans
Box office revenue exceeded $500 million in the Middle East and North Africa region last year.
By Sam Bridge
Mon 08 Oct 2018 02:25 PM

Box office revenue exceeded $500 million in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region last year, according to a research by PriceWaterhouseCooper (PwC).

This is about 1.25 percent of the global box office revenue of $39.92 billion, up 3 percent from 2016, according to ComScore.

Dr Martin Berlin, partner and global deals real estate leader at PWC, said: “There is a strong growth pipeline of new cinemas in the region, primarily driven by the opening of Saudi Arabian market.

“The biggest opportunities will come from the opening of the Saudi market, followed by the opportunity from sophisticated pricing mechanisms where cinema operators offer price differentiations based on particular timings and days – to help increase box office revenues. Additionally, premium screening is another way of optimising revenues.”

More than $3.54 billion investment in cinema screens across the Gulf is expected to help the region’s cinema industry expand manifold following Saudi Arabia’s historic decision to open up the sector 35 years after cinemas were banned in the kingdom.

In 2017, North America had $11.12 billion box office revenue, down 2.3 percent from 2016’s record $11.4 billion, while China had a record total ticket sale of $8.59 billion in 2017.

The research, to be released at the inaugural two-day MENA Cinema Forum in Dubai on October 28-29, comes as the expansion of the region’s box offices and the industry’s evolution provides massive opportunities as well as comes with challenges.

More than 45 speakers will discuss cinema-related issues – challenges and opportunities – in front of an audience of 450 industry professionals, businessmen, over 90 sponsors and delegates from 30 countries across the world.

Leila Masinaei, managing director of GM Events, organiser of the MENA Cinema Forum, said: “The opening of the cinema industry in Saudi Arabia – the largest Arab economy – is a game-changer that is opening new windows for foreign investors and cinema operators to offer the best experience to the upwardly mobile young men and women in the kingdom.

“The changes in Saudi Arabia have opened up a lot of opportunities for industry leaders who would look at the kingdom as the fastest growing market for entertainment.”

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