For the first time since coronavirus struck South Korea in January, theatrical box office in the keenly cinema-going nation showed a significant sign of recovery. Weekend ticket sales numbers reached 402,000, a figure that is less than half the score of a weekend in normal times, but was a week-on-week gain of 112%.

Two elements were responsible for the upswing: discount vouchers provided by the Korean Film Council (KOFIC) worth KRW 6,000 ($5) to spectators purchasing theatrical tickets; and the return of mainstream Korean films to cinemas.

Local mystery thriller “Intruder,” which opened Thursday, the same day as KOFIC’s voucher scheme, was the first major Korean film to receive a theatrical release since the coronavirus wreaked havoc on Korean box office. The film earned $2.23 from 289,000 admissions over its first four days. And its $1.87 million scored between Friday and Sunday, accounted for 63% of the nationwide weekend total.

Under its three-week campaign, launched to restart a film industry devastated by coronavirus, KOFIC will subsidize up to 1.33 million movie tickets bought between Thursday and Sunday, and the quasi-government organization says it may extend the scheme for longer. Now, more local films are lining up to releases and are forecast to drive the box office higher. They include: “Innocence” (Jun. 10); “Me and Me” (Jun. 18); and “#alive” (Jun. 24).