In December, Saudi Arabia lifted a 35-year ban on commercial theaters, and this past weekend, the first movie screenings were opened to the public. One of the screenings was a double feature of The Emoji Movie and Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie in the city of Jeddah, Reuters reports.  These animated films for children might not be the most acclaimed by the critics of 2017; in fact, The film Emoji was very terrible, but the screening is still a significant movement for the country, which recently has raised other ultraconservative restrictions on entertainment, such as a ban on concerts. According to The New York Times last week also marked the first time that women were allowed to attend a football game in a public stadium.
The Emoji Movie screening was part of a week-long series of screenings, and took place at a state cultural center because permanent theaters have not yet been opened. "We tried to use these films to be a starting point as the first film screening," said event organizer Mamdouh Salim Reuters . According to the report, the Saudi government expects to open 300 theaters by 2030.
As notes The New York Times Internet downloads and satellite television have allowed citizens to watch movies, even without theatrical exposure as an option. And the theatrical publications in Saudi Arabia will probably be censored. In December, the Ministry of Culture and Information issued a statement saying that the films "would be subject to censorship according to the kingdom's media policy," according to Times .
Reuters reports that permanent theaters could open in the country as early as March, although no clear plans have been announced. Hopefully by then, we have been able to forget about The Emoji Movie .