Multiplex operators in South Korea have begun to offer significantly reduced cinema tickets to moviegoers who have been vaccinated against the COVID-19 coronavirus. In pre-pandemic 2019 South Korea was the world’s fourth largest box office territory, but revenues and admissions this year are still at rock bottom levels.

The move was announced by the Korea Theater Association on Tuesday and is being offered by operators of the three largest cinema chains, CGV, Megabox and Lotte Cinema. The campaign will run for a month, until the end of June.

Patrons who can show that they have received at least one shot of vaccine will be offered a discount of KRW6,000 ($5.40) on regular 2D film screenings. That may reduce the cost of a ticket by more than half in some venues.

Lee Chang-moo, president of the Korea Theater Association, was qiuoted by local media as saying: “We’ve decided to launch this campaign in hopes of encouraging people to get vaccinated and return to normal daily life as soon as possible.”

Korea has controlled the virus better than many countries, but it has failed to prevent new clusters emerging – nationwide there has been over 400 new cases per day for the past three days –and anti-virus vaccination levels are currently low.

This has prompted a conservative response in the population and cinema attendance has failed to recover since a peak in October. For much of 2021 weekend box office has languished in the $3-4 million range, though it perked up to over $6 million for the past two weekends, propelled by the arrival of “F9” at the top of the chart.

“F9” has sped off to a $15.1 million cumulative since its release on May 19. That makes it the third highest grossing film this year in Korea. At this pace it will soon overtake “Demon Slayer The Movie: Mugen Train” with a running total of $17.9 million and “Soul,” currently on $17.1 million.

The long-standing malaise has caused several distributors to delay theatrical releases and divert some key titles directly to streaming platforms. And several cinemas have closed their doors.

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