Box office revenue exceeded US$500 million (AED1.83 billion) in the Middle East and North Africa, MENA, region, according to a research by PricewaterhouseCoopers, PwC.
This is about 1.25 percent of the global box office revenue of $39.92 billion recorded last year, up three percent from 2016, according to ComScore.
"The box office turnover in the MENA region would have reached $500 to $550 million in 2017," said Dr. Martin Berlin, Partner and Global Deals Real Estate Leader at PWC. "There is a strong growth pipeline of new cinemas in the region, primarily driven by the opening of the 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 differentiation based on particular timings and days – to help increase box office revenues. Additionally, premium screening is another way of optimising revenues."
The research, to be released at the inaugural two-day MENA Cinema Forum – the first-ever business conference of its kind for the regional market to be held on 28th and 29th October – will offer a detailed research on the current situation and future growth potential of the cinema industry in the MENA region.
The expansion of the region’s box offices and the industry’s evolution provides massive opportunities as well as comes with challenges – many of which will be addressed at a MENA Cinema Forum.
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."
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.
According to Zenith Media in 2017, cinema advertisement spend in the MENA region amounted to $84 million (AED308 million).
Debbie Stanford-Kristiansen, CEO of Novo Cinemas, said, "The GCC cinema industry is doing very well. The industry is resilient because of the price point, but still very affordable family entertainment even during tough times. However, it all comes down to the content, if we have great content then customers will come to watch the movies.
"The MENA cinema industry is still growing but at a slower pace at the moment. We need to be careful we do not over saturate the market with supply."
Novo Cinemas, which has 118 screens across 11 locations in the UAE and Bahrain, has been reimagining the movie-going experience to meet the growing demands and changing viewing habits of customers across the Gulf.
Some of the key topics that will be tackled at the MENA Cinema Forum include the transition through digital disruption and the economic impact of the growing cinema industry as well as the effect of the Saudi Cinema market across the region.
"The Saudi Government anticipates 300 cinemas will open by 2030, contributing $24 billion to the economy and creating 30,000 jobs," Masinaei said.
The MENA Cinema Forum is the first and only regional business conference on the cinema industry focussing on growth opportunities of the region’s cinema industry.