JEDDAH — The Saudi Film Commission has recently organized a virtual open panel titled "Saudi Films at the Box Office," where they highlighted the performance of the Saudi box office and the impact of Saudi films on both local and global platforms. A significant point of discussion was the reduction in cinema ticket prices, marking a notable shift as they are no longer the highest in the region. This year, average ticket prices decreased by over 16% compared to last year.

The panel featured numerous cinema industry leaders in Saudi Arabia and included contributions from film specialists and enthusiasts. They emphasized the strategic importance of the distribution and exhibition sector, derived from the Film Commission's strategy to stimulate demand for Saudi films in selected local and global markets. The goals include creating local and international awareness of Saudi film content, supporting distribution platforms for local content, improving the investment and regulatory environment in the sector, and encouraging cultural appreciation for films, particularly Saudi productions.

Key topics discussed included the growth of Saudi cinema, with the sector expanding rapidly since the reopening of cinemas five years ago. Now boasting 627 screens across 69 venues nationwide, this growth rate is among the fastest globally. In 2022 and 2023, box office sales exceeded SR900 million annually, with more than 17 million cinema tickets sold in 2023.

The dialogue also covered successful Saudi films at the box office, such as Sattar, the Book of Sun, and Night Courier. Filmmakers shared details of their successful journeys in the Saudi box office and the differences between showcasing films on big screens and digital platforms. There was a consensus on the international competitiveness of Saudi cinema and its anticipation by those keen to explore the Saudi film industry, reflecting its significant production and operational capabilities.

Participants discussed opportunities for Saudi films in local and global cinema screens, including festival screenings, distribution, and showcasing on digital platforms. The importance of applying the best marketing and distribution practices to ensure the success of Saudi films was also highlighted.

The conversation moved to address the main challenges facing the local cinema sector. Solutions discussed included collaboration between the government and private sectors to nurture Saudi talent, enhancing the film industry's infrastructure in the Kingdom, and encouraging cinema enthusiasts to experience films in theaters rather than solely on digital platforms. Key elements for the success of Saudi films were identified, including well-planned marketing, story maturity, production quality, and a critical yet constructive view of the evolving Saudi cinematic scene, promising a globally competitive future.

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