SEOUL, Aug. 19 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's multiplex chain GGV said Wednesday that it has suspended its ticket booking service to reduce seating capacities at screenings as part of precautionary measures against the spread of COVID-19.
From Tuesday, CGV, a movie theater operating unit of entertainment giant CJ Group, started to sell tickets for the upcoming Hollywood blockbuster film "Tenet," set to be released next Wednesday.
Nearly all available tickets for IMAX theaters had been sold out as of early Wednesday, according to CGV. The company has put about 70 percent of the seats on sale.
But following tightened social distancing guidelines placed on the greater Seoul region, CGV decided to lower seating capacities down to 50 percent, suspending its ticket booking service.
As a result, pre-sold tickets of "Tenet" for IMAX theaters were canceled and refunded, with CGV asking customers to reserve tickets again under the new seating arrangements.
Customers who have bought tickets for other movies of which booked seating capacities remain below 50 percent will be assigned new seating numbers, CGV said.
The move came as Seoul and the surrounding regions have reported hundreds of new daily COVID-19 cases for days, leading quarantine authorities to strengthen social distancing.
The recent spike in cases of the highly infectious virus has stoked a sense of foreboding within the film industry, which was hit hard by the new coronavirus this past spring.
The number of moviegoers hit rock bottom in April with an all-time low of 970,000, while dozens of homegrown and foreign movies delayed their release schedules.
Thanks to summer blockbusters, such as the zombie action adventure "Peninsula," however, total admissions rose for three straight months to reach 5.62 million in July.
But with the number of new virus cases growing fast, the recent upward momentum may end up short-lived. On Tuesday, theaters across the country drew some 140,000 moviegoers, down sharply from the 400,000 figure for Monday, according to box office data.