Korea, the world’s fifth largest box office market, is re-opening a portion of its major cinemas this week after a soft-ish shutdown last month. One of the first new titles in the mix will be Universal/DreamWorks Animation’s Trolls World Tour which will play exclusively at the Megabox circuit, the market’s 3rd largest. The animated sequel will be at 120 locations and on 250 screens from tomorrow, while it is simultaneously offered day-and-date on local premium VOD platforms at a price of KRW 22K ($18 including VAT).
As Anthony has reported, Uni’s controversial decision to take Trolls World Tour into homes day-and-date during exhibition’s COVID-19 shutdown has rocked up an estimated $95M in domestic rental fees across the title’s first 19 days. We are waiting on figures for the rest of the world where the movie had some theatrical releases. In Korea, the theatrical release of the 2016 original did about $4.5M.
Also in Korea, after shuttering about 30% of its circuit in late March, major exhibitor CGV is set to turn the lights back on in 36 theaters including those in central Seoul, and with social distancing measures. CGV had closed 35 of its 116 sites nationwide last month.
The Yonhap news agency cites a CGV official saying, “We will restart operations in a bid to overcome the crisis by revitalizing the virus-hit film industry and our neighborhood economy.” Lotte is also planning to open some sites.
Korea has been open for business to some degree throughout the coronavirus crisis, recently screening such beloved older titles as La La Land and some Avengers movies. However, given COVID-19 concerns, the market’s box office fell to an all-time low of just 1.83M admissions in March, versus 14.67M in the same month last year. The first quarter was down 56% against the same period in 2019.
Korea’s government has said it will inject 17B won ($14M) into the film industry as part of an emergency plan to help the sector. It also promised a 90% cut in charges paid by theaters for the film development fund. The Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Sports also has said it will spend 9B won ($7.4M) to incentivize people back to cinemas.
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