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S. Korean screen count still rising

Exhibs on the climb as industry slump continues

SEOUL — Investment in South Korea’s cinema exhibition sector is continuing, despite the local industry’s current slump.

The number of screens at the end of last year reached 1,957, up 5% from 1,880 in 2007, according to a report from the Korean Film Council (Kofic). As multiplexes took over from smaller venues, the number of theaters dropped from 321 to 314 in 2007.

Screen numbers have increased every year since the late 1990s. In 2001, just 818 screens served the country’s population of 40 million.

The number of multiplexes with seven or more screens increased from 198 in 2006 to 210 in 2007, powered by groups including CJ-CGV, Lotte Cinema, Megabox, Cinus and Primus. The market share of tickets sold by the multiplexes also increased, to 67% from 62%.

Biggest chain is CJ group affiliate CJ-CGV with 461 screens in 57 theaters. Primus, another circuit in the CJ orbit, had 276 screens in 38 theaters. The chains account for 37% of screens and 30.3% of theaters.

Lotte Cinema ranked at No. 2 with 316 screens in 41 theaters, followed by Cinus with 160 screens in 23 theaters and Megabox with 123 screens in 15 theaters.

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