Korean Cinema Price Hike Leads to Youth Backlash

By and Patrick von Sychowski | April 16, 2017 11:59 pm PST

Korea’s three major cinema chain introduced variable pricing last year and a recent poll by the Film Promotion Committee has found significant resentment to increased ticket and concession prices. The “2016 Theater Consumer Survey” polled 2,089 people aged 15-59.

Of these 78.1% were aware that prices had gone up by an average of KWN 233 (USD $0.20), with the likes of CGV, Lotte and Megabox increasing ticket prices by KWN 1,000 (USD $0.88) to KWN 11,000 (USD $9.67) for weekend and prime time, with CGV starting the trend on March 2016. 2.2% thought prices had gone down and 19.7% though they were unchanged.

63.8% said that the price differential would make ‘no change’ to their cinema going, but 30.9% said that their cinema going is likely to ‘decrease’. Significantly those in their teens and 20s said that a decrease was more likely for 38.8% and 39% respectively. Only 22.2% of those 50-and-above said they were less likely to go to cinema. Previously average ticket price rose  KWN 137 (USD $0.12) from KWN 7,895 (USD $6.94) to KWN 8,032 (USD $7.06) between 2015 and 2016.

Average concession spend was KWN 9,009 (USD $7.92), representing an increase of KWN 1,457 (USD $1.28). 69.2% of those surveyed thought that the combo price for one popcorn and two Coke of KWN 8,500 (USD $7.47) was too high, and that KWN 5,542 (USD $4.87) was a fair price.

In 2016 audiences numbers decreased by 0.1% compared to 2015 (217.29 million) but sales in 2016 were 1.6% higher than in 2015 at KWN 1.71 trillion (USD $1.5 billion).

51.2% of those polled admitted to smuggling food into the cinema, though only 43.2% were aware that bringing food into the cinema was permitted by the Fair Trade Commission as of 2008, as long as the food is not smelly, noisy or unsafe.

87.9% of those polled complained about having to sit through adverts, with 91.3% seeing the adverts before the film, but many complaining about the lack of clear information as to what was the start of the feature film, as opposed to the pre-show (adverts and trailers) presentation.

Patrick von Sychowski
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Patrick von Sychowski

Patrick was a Senior Analyst at Screen Digest, went on to launch the digital cinema operations of Unique and Deluxe Europe, then digitised Bollywood at Adlabs/RMW, and now writes, consults and appears on panels about cinema all over the world.
Patrick von Sychowski
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