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S. Korean multiplexes still suffer from pandemic-inflicted losses in Q3

Movies 09:45 November 10, 2021

By Kim Boram

SEOUL, Nov. 10 (Yonhap) -- South Korean multiplex operators suffered huge losses in the third quarter amid the protracted COVID-19 pandemic, but their bottomline is expected to improve thanks to the nationwide move to return to normalcy, financial data showed Wednesday.

CJ CGV, the No. 1 multiplex operator under the wing of entertainment giant CJ Group, said its operating loss reached 77.5 billion won (US$65.7 million) over the July-September period, narrowing from an operating deficit of 96.8 billion won a year ago.

Its sales inched up 4.4 percent on-year to 162.1 billion won for the third quarter from 155.2 billion won thanks to increased ticket sales of homegrown summer hits like "Escape from Mogadishu" and "Sinkhole."

Lotte Cultureworks, which runs Lotte Cinema, saw its third-quarter operating loss decrease 27 percent to 32 billion won from a loss of 44 billion won a year earlier.

It posted 79 billion won in sales over the cited period, up 16.5 percent from 66 billion a year earlier.

J Contentree, which owns Megabox, also remained in the red in the three month period, logging an operating loss of 16.1 billion won, slightly widening from an operating deficit of 15.1 billion won.

Its third-quarter revenue climbed 4.3 percent on-year to 30.8 billion won from 29.4 billion won.

In this file photo taken Oct. 31, 2021, people wait to buy tickets at a movie theater in Seoul. (Yonhap)

Insiders said the local cinema chains' weak balance sheet was affected by a resurgence in the number of daily COVID-19 infections and the tightened social distancing restrictions, such as nighttime curfews, since the beginning of 2021.

The number of moviegoers reached 20.3 million over the three months through September, cut by more than a third from 61.4 million people in the pre-pandemic year of 2019.

But they noted the government-led "living with COVID-19" policy will help the cinema industry stay afloat from the fourth quarter, along with releases of some big-name Hollywood blockbusters, like "Eternals" and "Spider-Man: No Way Home."

"We will move swiftly to keep up with the government policy and deal with the normalization of the market," Min-hoi Heo, CEO of CJ CGV, said in a statement.

Earlier, the local health authorities announced plans to go ahead with the "living with COVID-19" scheme from the first day of November, phasing out coronavirus restrictions, such as nighttime curfews on cafes and theaters and a ban on eating snacks in theaters.

To attract more people to movie theaters, the state-run Korean Film Council (KOFIC) has started issuing discounted cinema tickets worth 6,000 won from last week.

In this file photo taken Nov. 1, 2021, a moviegoer buys a bucket of popcorn and sodas at a theater in Seoul. (Yonhap)

brk@yna.co.kr
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