Saudi Arabia’s 35-year ban on movies is coming to an end, with the premiere of Marvel’s superhero film Black Panther.
The Hollywood blockbuster will play at a private screening in Riyadh, and cinemas are set to open to the public in May.
Forty cinemas will open in the next five years under an agreement with AMC Entertainment Holdings.
The first cinema to open will be located in the King Abdullah Financial District and the main theatre is set to have 500 leather seats, orchestra and balcony levels and marble bathrooms.
Cinemas were closed on the orders of strict clerics, but they are being reopened under a larger reform plan which aims to catapult the ultra-conservative kingdom into the 21st century.
Rolling back a ban on theatres is just one in a set of sweeping reforms designed to rebrand Saudi Arabia as a tolerant nation and a modern economy.
Saudis will also have public concerts and a fashion week, and women will soon be allowed to drive.
The ban was lifted by 32-year-old crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, who was made heir to the throne last year.
Lifting the cinema ban is part of his so-called Vision 2030, a blueprint for the country that aims to boost local spending and create jobs amid sustained lower oil prices.
Adel Abdel Ghafar, from Brookings Doha Centre, said it was part of a vision for a “more open Saudi”.
“One that is open for tourism, business, and less dependent on oil,” he said.
Mr Ghafar said Mr Salman was an ambitious prince trying to “consolidate his hold on power” and appeal to a younger audience.
“It feels like he’s definitely in a rush because the kingdom is indeed in need of reform,” he said.
The majority of the 32 million Saudi population are under 30 and a 2014 study showed Saudis watched films online on a weekly basis.
An agenda with ‘dark undertones’
Mr Salman has promised to create jobs by weaning the country off its “addiction to oil” and foreign companies have responded with billions of dollars in promised investment.
But Mr Ghafar said the crown prince’s agenda had darker undertones.
“In conjunction with the reforms, there’s been a crackdown on the media, a crackdown on some of the political actors in the kingdom, as MBS consolidates his hold on power,” he said.
The crown prince has jailed dozens, including peaceful clerics, journalists and intellectuals.
Samah Hadid, Amnesty International’s director of campaigns in the Middle East, said the changes were cosmetic.
“If he is intent on enabling real change and being a true reformer, he really does need to end the systematic repression and end these human rights abuses in his country,” she said.
As well as cracking down at home, the crown price has waged a military campaign against Iranian-backed rebels in Yemen, killing more than 5000 civilians as millions more face famine.