Hollywood blockbuster “Tenet” opened on top of the Korean box office, but its performance is declining as the coronavirus makes a comeback in the country. Releases of other films, including “Mulan,” are now being postponed or halted.
Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” began its commercial career in the world’s fourth largest theatrical market on Wednesday earning $596,000 from 2,228 screens, according to data from the Korean Film Council’s KOBIZ system. On Thursday, it earned $596,000 from a slightly smaller 2,179 sites. After two days of commercial release, plus two days of previews, “Tenet” has been viewed by 301,000 Korean spectators, generating $2.14 million.
The per screen average on Thursday was down to $271, from $371 on Wednesday. The previews generated a per screen box office of $623 on Saturday (Aug. 22), and $595 on Sunday (Aug. 23).
Capital city Seoul was placed under level two restrictions (on a scale of one to three) on Aug. 19, and indoor gatherings of 50 or more people and outdoor events of 100 or more people were banned. On Friday, Seoul authorities said that the level two restrictions will continue for one more week, as they confirmed 146 new cases in the city, down only slightly from Wednesday’s record 154. New measures to protect children, students and the elderly may soon be added.
While cinemas have not yet been ordered to close, they have cut their seating capacity, in order to increase social distancing. The country’s leading exhibitor CJ-CGV reduced its per screen capacity from 70% to 50%, refunding some pre-sold tickets for “Tenet,” reallocating some seats and in other cases asking customers to re-book.
The resurgence of the virus, especially in capital city Seoul, has caused distributors to rethink their plans.
Local firm, Merry Christmas on Thursday put its release of sci-fi adventure “Space Sweepers” on indefinite hold. One of the most anticipated films of the year, it had been planning a release on Sept. 23, a week ahead of the important Sept. 30-Oct. 2 Chuseok holidays.
“The Golden Holiday,” due to have released on Aug. 19, has also been postponed. Animation horror “Beauty Water” was scheduled to have released Sept. 2, but will no longer go ahead.
Disney’s “Mulan” has been pushed back from Sept. 10 to Sept. 17 in Korea, while “The New Mutants” moves from Sept. 3 to Sept. 10.
To date, South Korea has recorded 17,665 cases of COVID-19, according to Johns Hopkins University, and 319 deaths. There have been 3,523 infections in Seoul, according to the Yonhap news agency.