(ATTN: UPDATES with latest cases in 3rd last para)
SEOUL, March 6 (Yonhap) -- South Korean movie theater chains are screening past blockbusters and classics as the spreading coronavirus has been keeping people from local cinemas.
The 2004 fantasy film "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" made a return to the South Korean silver screen in 4DX on Feb. 26.
The 4DX version of part three of the tale of teenage wizardry is popular among long-time "Harry Potter" fans, who enjoy the physical effects such as sprays of wind and water and chair movements that reflect what's happening onscreen.
It had attracted 1.24 million moviegoers as of Thursday, and its presale tickets were the second-most purchased on Friday, according to data from the Korean Film Council.
CGV, the leading multiplex franchise run by entertainment giant CJ Group, has launched a special program to screen famous films selected by film buffs.
This week, it has been showing the musical comedy-drama "Begin Again" (2013), romantic comedy "About Time" (2013), musical coming-of-age drama "Sing Street" (2016) and romantic melodrama "Carol" (2015).
Lotte Cinema, another multiplex chain, also started a project Thursday to help South Korean movie fans who have been struggling to keep their minds off the novel coronavirus through film.
The program includes the South Korean drama "Little Forest" (2018), American romantic comedy "Silver Linings Playbook" (2012) and Academy Award-winning "Green Book" (2018).
On March 12, it will also exclusively screen "Slumdog Millionaire" (2008), a crime movie that won eight Oscar trophies including best picture.
The South Korean movie industry has been hit hard by the outbreak of COVID-19, with the total number of confirmed cases in the country reaching 6,593 on Friday.
About 380,000 movie tickets were sold during the first five days of March, nosediving from the 2.5 million tallied over the same period last year.
Distributors have rescheduled the release of films set to hit local theaters in February and March.
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