Korea Box Office Awaits Impact of Reduced Social Distancing Measures

Patrick Frater
·2-min read

Korean cinemas got a boost as coronavirus restrictions were reduced to their lowest level, meaning that an empty seat no longer has to be left between every audience member. The move, implemented from Monday, came too late to transform the weekend.

CGV and other cinema operators told the Yonhap news agency that their booking systems would allow the sale of 100% of seats from Monday. They will have to continue temperature checks and providing other simple public health precautions.

Over the weekend, new release title “Collectors,” a treasure hunt action drama set in contemporary Seoul, launched on Wednesday took the top spot in its opening weekend with $3.46 million, and a five-day cumulative of $4.73 million, according to data from the Kobis tracking service of the Korean Film Council (KOFIC).

“Collectors” deposed comedy drama “Samjin Company English Class,” which had been the chart leader for the two previous weekends. It earned $1.56 million, or a 50% decrease on its previous weekend score, to finish with a 19-day cumulative of $9.99 million.

The total box office recorded by the top ten films over the weekend was $5.68 million, compared with $4.75 million in the previous Oct. 30-Nov.1 session. That was an increase of 20%.

Authorities have warned that they may have to raise the health alert system back to Level 1.5 if a recent spike in coronavirus cases is not soon flattened.

At that point cinemas will be required to leave an empty seat between different parties, though there is no limit on the number of companions in a group. At Level 2, every other seat must be left empty. At Level 2.5, two seats must be kept free between every person. At Level 3 on the five-tier scheme cinemas and theaters must close again.

Although Korea, has managed the virus far better than most European countries, the globally important box office market has been badly hit by shutdowns and audience caution. Data from KOFIC shows admission numbers for the ten months to end of October down by 70% to just 54.5 million.

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