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Ticket sales drop due to outbreak

Feb 05,2020
The local box office is hurting thanks to the coronavirus outbreak as people are choosing to stay inside and watch content from over-the-top (OTT) platforms instead of going out to theaters.

According to Korean Film Council’s monthly report, only 16.8 million people visited movie theaters in January, the lowest January record since January 2012 when the number was 16.7 million.

Despite increased ticket sales due to the Lunar New Year holiday, after more patients were confirmed to have the virus in Korea, box office sales quickly dropped.

Last weekend, 824,000 movie tickets were sold, only one-third of the total sales the weekend prior, during the holiday period, when 2.7 million tickets were sold. The previous weekend, Jan. 18 to 19, there were about 1.2 million moviegoers.

Meanwhile, people are spending more time streaming from OTT platforms, and many of the most popular films are those about epidemic outbreaks.

According to local video streaming service Watcha, the 2011 film “Contagion” has seen a surge in views. The film is about an unknown and strongly contagious virus spreading around the world, eerily similar to the ongoing coronavirus situation.

The disaster film first appeared on the Watcha rankings on Jan. 22 in 58th place, but it shot to the fourth place by Jan. 25. It became the No. 1 film on Jan. 28 and had held on to the spot ever since.

The film also hit the top spot on local video streaming service Wavve last week, shooting past recent films such as “Start-Up” and “Forbidden Dream,” which currently take second and third place, respectively.

By Lee Jae-lim