In August, AMC Entertainment CEO Adam Aron told analysts he "could not be more upbeat" about the company's expansion into Saudi Arabia, where the cinema operator had recently opened the first new movie theater in the conservative Islamic kingdom in nearly four decades.
Aron had good reason to be effusive. In his words, the opening received "massive global publicity." AMC's single screen in Riyadh is more than 20 times more profitable than the average AMC screen. Plus, that profitability is coming cheap. Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund is kicking in the "lion's share" of the capital necessary to build the planned 50 to 100 AMC theaters in the kingdom.