Virus Fears Dampen Korea Box Office, Halt Movie Promotions

Fear of the spread of the coronavirus that is sweeping China has begun to contaminate the film industry in South Korea.

Box office between Friday and Sunday dropped by 70% compared to last week’s 4-day holiday weekend and by 30% compared with the weekend before that. Though the virus may only be partly responsible.

“We suppose that it is partly due to the coronavirus threat, while at this point it is more because few new films were released last week,” a Megabox spokesperson told Variety. South Korea has 15 recorded cases of coronavirus and no fatalities.

Leading exhibitor, CGV has temporarily closed a few complexes that were visited by two people known to have been infected by the virus. CineQ has also shut down a branch.

Several press and promotion events have been postponed or cancelled, as people increasingly fear going out in public places. A press gathering for Netflix’s Korean original series “My Holo Love” was cancelled and replaced by a live online conference. “Time to Hunt,” which will premiere at this month’s Berlin film festival, called off a showcase event. Lotte Cultureworks indefinitely postponed a Q&A event for “Spirit of Jeet Keun Do.” Animated children’s film “The Stolen Princess” has put back its release date.

At what was left of the box office, “The Man Standing Next” remained on top of the chart in its second weekend. The Showbox release earned $3.73 million from 508,000 admissions between Friday and Sunday for a total of $31 million from 4.25 million admissions. The political drama accounted for 47% of the total weekend box office.

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Lotte’s “Hitman: Agent Jun” remained in its second place. The comedy action film earned $2.48 million for a total of $15.4 million after two weekends on release.

Disney’s “Spies in Disguise” earned $365,000, for a two-weekend total of $2.94 million. Megabox’s “Mr. Zoo: The Missing VIP” earned $308,000 over the same period for a total of $4.14 million after two weekends. The only newcomer of the week, re-released American mystery drama “Inception” opened on Wednesday (Jan. 29) and landed in fifth place. It earned $337,000 over five days.


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