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Film industry likely to go back to normal under relaxed social distancing

All News 11:17 May 06, 2020

SEOUL, May 6 (Yonhap) -- As South Korea switched to an everyday form of social distancing from Wednesday, the film industry, hit hard by the novel coronavirus pandemic, is slowly moving to go back to normal.

The number of daily moviegoers plunged to an all-time low of 15,000 on April 5 as people have been asked to stay at home to prevent further the spread of infection. The country's total COVID-19 infections surpassed 10,000 on April 3.

Consequently, the monthly number of viewers hit 972,000 for April, marking the first time for the figure to come in below the 1-million threshold since box office data was first compiled in 2004.

A Seoul movie theater is relatively empty on May 1, 2020. (Yonhap)

But an increasing number of film buffs started to go to movie theaters as the country has reported around 10 new confirmed cases for more than a week and the country softened the social distancing campaign.

About 110,000 tickets were sold on Tuesday, Children's Day and the last day of the six-day holiday, marking the highest daily sales in two months.

At the same time, a handful of films, which had to postpone their premieres in March and April, are rescheduling their release plans in May and coming months.

The mystery thriller "Intruder," which was to open in March, will be released on May 21, according to its distributor. Directed by Sohn Won-pyung and starring Song Ji-hyo, the film is about a family embroiled in mysterious incidents after the missing daughter returns home.

It will be the first South Korean commercial movie to hit local screens since the coronavirus pandemic swept the film industry in late February.

A poster of mystery thriller "Intruder" provided by Acemaker Movieworks (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

Distributors of thriller "Call" and drama "Innocence" are also considering releasing the titles within May.

More films, including drama "#Alone," starring Yoo Ah-in and Park Shin-hye will likely come out next month to attract more people to cinemas.

To keep up with the upbeat trend, local multiplexes resumed operations of their closed theaters this month. As part of belt-tightening efforts, industry leader CGV shut down 30 percent of its theaters for one month in April, while Megabox closed 11 branches nationwide.

Despite the reopening, they still reduced their maximum seating capacity by 50 percent and sell seats with adequate space.

Moreover, film award ceremonies will take place next month.

This year's Daejong Film Awards, known as the Grand Bell Awards in English, has been scheduled for June 3 with a smaller audience. The annual event was originally set for Feb. 25, but it was postponed due to COVID-19 fears.

The Baeksang Arts Awards, honouring outstanding achievements in the South Korean film and television industries, will be held on June 5 behind closed doors.


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