Movie Theaters Hit Hard by Coronavirus Pandemic | Be Korea-savvy

Movie Theaters Hit Hard by Coronavirus Pandemic

A movie theater in Seoul on March 18, 2020. (Yonhap)

A movie theater in Seoul on March 18, 2020. (Yonhap)

SEOUL, April 20 (Korea Bizwire)In the aftermath of a precipitous drop in customers due to the novel coronavirus outbreak, movie theaters are coming up with innovative ways to generate revenue.

Some theaters are now allowing customers to rent the whole venue to overcome the fallout from the COVID-19 outbreak.

CJ CGV, South Korea’s largest multiplex cinema chain, has hosted an event called “Rent a Theater and Watch a Movie Alone” at three branches since the April 16.

The company had originally planned to accept reservations until April 28, but all the venues were fully booked after only one day following a surge in interest.

The overwhelming popularity of the promotion was due to the extremely affordable rental fee of only 30,000 won (US$24.61) for two hours.

Although pricing differs depending on the theater and time of day, it usually costs 1.8 million won to 1.9 million won to rent an entire 200-seat theater.

Applicants are said to have rented the venue for personal events such as proposals or to watch movies with family members, significant others, and friends.

The promotion is indicative of the tremendous impact that the outbreak has had on the movie industry, and the extent to which companies are willing to go to remain viable.

Despite being the weekend, as of April 18, the total audience numbers had only reached 45,500.

With the onset of social distancing, a growing number of movie buffs are choosing to watch movies on their own instead of with friends.

From February 1 to April 7, 29.9 percent of ticket buyers watched movies alone at CJ CGV, more than doubling from 16.7 percent during the same period last year.

On the other hand, the ratio of family-based audience members halved from 27.6 percent last year to 13 percent this year.

Meanwhile, social distancing measures imposed to limit the spread of the coronavirus have not been favorable to the movie industry.

Since only half of the seats in a theater can be filled in order to respect physical distancing guidelines, there is a limit to the number of moviegoers a theater can welcome even if a blockbuster movie is released.

“Even if the spread of COVID-19 in Korea is contained and moviegoers return, theaters will have to leave seats empty between patrons in accordance with government guidelines,” a film industry official said.

Ashley Song (

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