[ENTERTAINMENT]Movie theaters kicking off big push for soccer fans

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[ENTERTAINMENT]Movie theaters kicking off big push for soccer fans

The hundreds of thousands of people who descended on the heart of Seoul last Monday for the Korea-U.S. soccer game made for an amazing sight. But that makes you wonder: Where would all these people have been if not for the game? Movie theaters, maybe? On the Tuesday night that Korea played its first World Cup game, against Poland, a theater in downtown Seoul was screening a special preview of the comedy "Bet on My Disco." Such a show would usually guarantee a packed house, but most of the seats were empty. After the movie, there was hardly any traffic on the streets. But thick clusters of people in red T-shirts were everywhere, celebrating the national team's World Cup win.

Since the end of May, box office receipts at Seoul's theaters have conspicuously decreased, almost in half, said Yoo Hyun-sang at the Korea Film Commission.

Lee Ji-young, a public relations manager for the new movie "Yesterday," said, "We've been concerned about the 'World Cup effect,' so we came up with World Cup marketing." As a result, "Yesterday" got English subtitles, and was screened for the public on May 21, the day Korea played a friendly match against England. The movie was shown a few hours before the game, and the turnout was 'surprising,'" Mr. Lee said. The agency promoting an American computer animation film, "Ice Age," which is set to open in Korea on Aug. 9, has a similar idea. Last Friday when Korea played Portugal, the company put on a preview screening exclusively for the Red Devils, the official cheering squad for the Korean team.

Similar promotions for other movies are going on. Publicists for "Are You Ready," an adventure movie opening July 12, made 40,000 hand fans, on which are written "Hoping for the Final 8," and gave them to the cheerers in central Seoul on Monday. Seo Se-won, a comedian and movie producer who did last year's hit, "My Wife Is a Gangster," is now working on a slapstick comedy, "The 19th State of Emergency." Seo recently said that if Korea advances to the second round, he would show the movie for free on July 14 for 2,000 people at the Seoul Marriott hotel. Also on the day of the U.S. match, the promoters of a movie that debuted last month, "Stuntman," organized stunt shows at sites where the movie was shot. During their tricks, the stuntmen cried out "Korea Team Fighting!" And of course, "Stuntman Team Fighting!"

by Chun Su-jin

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