Saudi Arabian Movie Theater Chain Plans IPO: Report

Nearly four years after Saudi Arabia allowed movie theaters to reopen after being shuttered for 35 years, a locally based movie chain operator is seeking to become publicly traded.

What Happened: According to a Bloomberg report citing unnamed “people familiar with the matter," Muvi Cinemas has hired the investment banking arm of Banque Saudi Fransi as an adviser in a planned initial public offering. The company expects to be valued at as much as $800 million and is aiming to be listed on Saudi Arabia’s Nomu parallel equity market later this month.

Muvi Cinemas was founded in 2019 as the first Saudi-owned cinema chain, and it operated approximately 200 screens in 10 cities.

Related Link: 'The Batman' Reigns At US Box Office With $120M Opening Weekend

Why It Happened: Saudi Arabia had movie theaters until 1983 when religious zealots successfully advocated for their closure by claiming they defiled Islamic principles, though Saudi residents could still watch films through satellite television and on VHS video and later on DVDs. In April 2018, the country reversed course and enabled the reopening of its cinemas while encouraging the creation of a local film industry.

American films dominate the Muvi Cinemas’ current line-up, including Walt Disney Co.’s DIS “Turning Red” — the company is releasing the film theatrically in markets where its Disney+ streaming service is unavailable — "The Batman" from AT&T Inc.'s T Warner Bros. unit and Paramount Global's PARAA “Contractor” starring Chris Pine, which has yet to open in the U.S., and the studio’s 50th-anniversary re-release of “The Godfather.”

The only Saudi-produced film in release in the Muvi Cinemas chains is the upcoming comedy "Heroes," which is about an ill-tempered soccer coach forced to do community service with non-professional players.

Photo: Muvi Cinemas

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