Stefano Sollima’s Sicario: Day of the Soldado will be the first North American independent film to be released in Saudi Arabia after a 35-year ban on commercial cinemas was lifted in the country, Variety reported. The film will be released on AMC screens in the Saudi capital of Riyadh on June 28, a day before it opens in the United States of America.

A sequel to Denis Villeneuve’s 2015 crime thriller Sicario, the film stars Benicio del Toro and Josh Brolin as Central Intelligence Agency officers who crack down on drug-trafficking.

Sicario: Day of the Soldado will be distributed in Saudi Arabia by Italia Film, a West Asian company. The firm had also handled the release of Marvel’s Black Panther in Saudi Arabia on April 18, the first theatrical release in the kingdom since the early 1980s, when commercial cinemas were closed down after an ultra-conservative form of Islam was adopted. In December, the ban was lifted as part of Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman Al-Saud’s Vision 2030 programme to boost the country’s economy and reduce its dependence on oil.

Italia Film said a statement that Sicario: Day of the Soldado’s release was “another great victory for the film industry and for film fans in Saudi Arabia”, adding that it was “great achievement” for the independent film industry since the Saudi market “was initially perceived to be only embracing the big [US] studio productions”.

In an e-mail to Variety, Italia Film’s Carlo Vincenti said that Soldado will also be the first release to be rated R-18 in Saudi Arabia, because of the film’s “subject and violence”. Vincenti added that the censorship cuts to Soldado were “very minor”, with “just a few instances of cursing” being muted.

Sicario: Day of the Soldado (2018).