AMC premiered “Black Panther” last night for a VIP audience in Riyadh, heralding the return of cinema to Saudi Arabia after a ban that lasted for more than three decades. The company announced that they will started selling tickets to the public the next day, much earlier than previously expected.

The venue for the screening was a converted theater at the conference center in King Abdullah Financial District. The rest of the project remains unfinished after years of constructions and delays. AMC said they will remove the elegant Italian leather seats from the theater and replace them with reclining black seats.

The opening felt a bit rushed, like several other projects launched recently in the kingdom, but the invited guests were excited to be there. The theater has become half empty before the end of the movie, a sign that many in the audience have probably already watched it in Dubai, Manama or other places.

Selecting a movie about a crown prince trying to transform a rich kingdom carried a clear symbolism but real life seldom resembles the movies. It is usually the other way around.