Boca Raton, Florida-based exhibitor and dine-in luxury chain iPic Entertainment looks set to be the next group moving into the opening Saudi Arabian market. The company has signed a memorandum of understanding to develop its theater-and-restaurant locations throughout the Kingdom in partnership with Saudi group BAS Global Investments Company. The deal demonstrates iPic’s strategy to pursue international asset-light licensed agreements.
Saudi recently lifted a 35-year ban on public cinemas under the aegis of Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman Al-Saud and his Vision 2030 program to diversify the economy and reduce the Kingdom’s dependence on oil. With roughly two-thirds of the local population under 30, iPic says the demographics play into its strength as a social and affordable luxury entertainment destination.
“We are thrilled to be working with BAS Global which we believe will be excellent local partners to lead growth of the iPic brand throughout the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” says Hamid Hashemi, Founder & Chief Executive Officer of iPic Entertainment. “We are excited to bring our first-class entertainment experience to the region and be a part of the country’s Saudi Vision 2030 Plan.”
IPic combines polished-casual restaurants and luxury auditoriums with gourmet, in-theater dining. It currently operates three restaurant concepts — The Tuck Room, Tanzy and City Perch — with one planned to be included at each location.
The new iPic theaters in Saudi will offer the option of Premium or Premium Plus seating as well as its patent-pending viewing pods and chaise lounge seating. Premium seat ticket holders may purchase food and beverage selections direct from iPic Express to carry into the theater. Premium Plus ticket holders can have servers deliver menu selections direct to their chairs via call buttons.
It is not yet known if Saudi cinemas will be segregated with theaters for men and women separate in the religiously strict territory.
The company’s auditoriums seat 50-90 people; each will be equipped with 4K digital cinema technology and the viewing pods. All seats can be reserved online on iPic’s proprietary reservation system or via the iPic app. The company also screens alternative content such as live shows and gaming competitions. It currently operates 15 locations with 115 screens in Arizona, California, Florida, New Jersey, New York, Texas and Washington. There are plans for further theaters in Florida, Georgia, Texas, California and Connecticut.