Movie ticket sales plunge to one quarter of last year's total

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Movie ticket sales plunge to one quarter of last year's total

Relatively empty theaters in one of the multiplex cinema chains on Dec. 7, the day before the social distancing level escalated to Level 2.5. [YONHAP]

Relatively empty theaters in one of the multiplex cinema chains on Dec. 7, the day before the social distancing level escalated to Level 2.5. [YONHAP]

 
The local film industry, which recorded over 220 million ticket sales last year, is facing a major recession due to the coronavirus pandemic.
 
According to data from the Korean Film Council on Wednesday, the accumulated number of ticket sales this year has plunged to one-fourth of last year’s total amount.  
 
The data showed the total number of ticket sales this year surpassed 58 million. In Seoul, where movie theaters have been forced to close their doors until the end of the year because of the Level 2.5 social distancing guidelines, it is highly probable that cinemas will remain largely empty.  
 
Many highly-anticipated upcoming films such as musical “Life is Beautiful,” sci-fi film “Seobok” and other foreign films pushed back their releases as daily cases of Covid-19 spiked.
 
The lack of audience members is only accentuated by the success the local film industry saw last year, reaching an all-time high of 220 million ticket sales and seeing a total of four films such as director Bong Joon-ho’s “Parasite” and director Lee Byung-hun’s “Extreme Job” each surpassing the threshold of 10 million ticket sales.
 
The film industry was first hit in February as Covid-19 took its toll on the nation but managed to reap 8.8 million ticket sales in August with the release of anticipated blockbusters “Peninsula” and “Deliver Us From Evil.” As daily cases of infection escalated after National Liberation Day on Aug. 15, monthly ticket sales fell to 2.9 million in September, then 4.6 million and 3.5 million in October and November, respectively.  
 
The monthly ticket sales for this month recorded 350,000 as of Wednesday, making it unlikely that the sales for December will surpass 1.5 million, the number needed for annual ticket sales to exceed 60 million.  
 
Even if sales scrape to 60 million, that amount would not surpass the annual sales in 2004 when the council first started to compile data. In 2004, total number of audiences recorded 69 million.
 
BY LEE JAE-LIM   [lee.jaelim@joonang.co.kr]
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