SEOUL, June 29 (Korea Bizwire) — South Korean multiplex operators have launched drive-in theaters as a way to attract more people back to cinemas, hit hard by the protracted novel coronavirus pandemic.
Lotte Cinema, one of the three leading cinema chains in the country, opened the Drive Osiria theater on June 10 at the Osiria Tourism Complex in western Busan.
It is the first outdoor theater run by a major multiplex, with 300 cars able to park in front of a big screen.
It screens movies twice a day on weekdays and weekends for 22,000 won (US$20) per vehicle, offering a new option to people who want to enjoy movies from the comfort and safety of their cars.
Lotte Cinema said about 2,500 cars have come to the outdoor theater over the past two weeks.
In Incheon, 40 kilometers west of Seoul, moreover, industry leader CJ CGV’s latest outdoor cinema CGV Drive-In Square One started operations last Friday.
It is CGV’s first permanent drive-in theater, following a temporary outdoor facility at Seoul Land, an amusement park in Gwacheon, just south of Seoul, last year.
Four people are allowed inside one vehicle on a 24,000 won ticket, while a weekday ticket at an indoor theater costs 12,000 won.
The openings of drive-in theaters by major multiplexes are part of their efforts to lure moviegoers who seek virus-free places to return to theaters.
In drive-in theaters, people are automatically separated from each other by cars and allowed to eat snacks and drink sodas inside cars, which are technically prohibited at indoor theaters.
“Our temporary drive-in theater was very popular last year,” a CGV official said. “To meet the rising demand for a safer theater, we came up with the permanent drive-in theater.”
The South Korean film industry saw theater attendees tumble 74 percent on-year in 2020 due to the pandemic.
The downside trend has continued in 2021, as the number of moviegoers slumped 69 percent on-year over the first three months of this year due to a lack of blockbusters and tightened social distancing guidelines for indoor facilities.