SEOUL, Oct. 19 (Korea Bizwire) — CJ CGV, the country’s largest cinema chain, has decided to reduce the number of its branches by 30 percent as it strives to survive the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
The company, affiliated with entertainment and retail giant CJ Group, announced a set of restructuring measures Monday, as its revenue is estimated to have tumbled 70 percent on-year since COVID-19 hit the country early this year.
The package includes a plan to cut the number of branch cinemas directly run by the company across the country by 35-40 from the current 119 over the next three years.
CGV will also try to negotiate rent reduction for badly hurt branches. The company will halt operations of theaters that incur large losses and consider closing if necessary, it added.
“We have decided to implement drastic self-rescue measures for survival as sales fell nearly 70 percent compared with the same period last year,” a company official said. “We will come up with stronger measures depending on the situation.”
Under the plans, the opening of new theaters will be delayed or called off, while the number of screenings during weekdays will be flexibly adjusted.
The multiplex chain also said it will continue to sell unprofitable assets and reconsider inefficient projects.
In the first half of the year, the cinema circuit pushed to secure liquidity by selling loss-making entities and stakes in overseas operations. The company also implemented an early retirement program and closed a third of its operations nationwide for a month.
On Sunday, the company announced it will raise ticket prices by 1,000 won (US$0.85) and 2,000 won after 1 p.m. on weekdays and on weekends, respectively, next Monday.
The number of tickets sold in September hit a record low for the month as people shunned public places due to the coronavirus, according to government figures.
The Korean Film Council (KOFIC) said the number of moviegoers fell 79.7 percent on-year to 2.99 million last month, the lowest since 2004 when the agency began to record the number across the country.
The accumulated number in the January-September period was 49.86 million, down 70.8 percent from the same period a year before. Revenue during the period plunged 70.7 percent on-year to 424.3 billion won.
Ticket sales sharply dropped early this year due to the coronavirus outbreak but rebounded in July with the COVOD-19′s stabilization, the release of summer blockbusters and discount events organized by KOFIC.
Revenue fell again with the resurgence of the virus in mid-August and showed signs of recovery in late September ahead of the Chuseok fall harvest holiday, KOFIC data showed.