In Korea Cinemas Evolve Into Customized Experience Spaces

By Patrick von Sychowski | March 26, 2023 5:40 pm PDT
Korean Cinemas Evolve

Korea’s three largest multiplex chains CGV, Lotte Cinema, and Megabox, are evolving their business scope into complex cultural spaces that provide “unique experiences” to meet customer needs, instead of just being places where you come to watch movies. They are doing this by hosting events and programs, not just ones connected to movie screenings, but in addition have enhanced their offerings with sports experience spaces and exhibitions using the advantages that cinema spaces offer.

As a representative example, CGV is receiving favorable reviews for transforming theater facilities into leisure facilities for the first time in the domestic movie theater industry. After renewing the theater, it opened “The Approach,” the first short-game golf studio in Korea to enjoy in a movie theater, in February, and previously introduced climbing gym pickers and a bowling pub. In addition, there is also a space where you can enjoy various sports arcades, such as table tennis and pocket ball, so that you can enjoy sports at the cinema.

It introduced various cultural spaces by introducing a new concept comic cafe, Lolol, and a tangible game room, Mission Break. In addition, through the art and cultural contents brand “Icecon,” various contents such as live performances, lectures, and live sports broadcasts were provided.

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Unlike many other Asian nations (with the exception of Japan) Korea has a mature cinema market, with many multiplexes 20 years or older, as well as an aging population. That means that they cannot expand by building more multiplexes in an already saturated market. The market leader, CJ CGV, has already sought to innovate cinema technology with its CJ 4DPlex launch of 4DX immersive seating and Screen X immersive premium large format (PLF) screens. It has also enhanced food and beverage offerings. Now CGV and its two rivals are trying to completely rethink what a visit to the ‘cinema’ means.

Lotte Cinema of Lotte Cultureworks also recently opened an exhibition space CxC Art Museum x Lotte Cinema in cooperation with the exhibition planning company CCOC. The first photo exhibition was held.

In particular, at the end of last year, Lotte Cinema World Tower’s Super Plex, the flagship in Jamsil, Seoul, was renewed and the evolution into a content experience space began in earnest. In addition, “Happy Ending Movie JOB Talk” is held at movie theaters to provide vocational training related to the film industry to young people, and the Lossipple brand, a culture project that introduces various genres of culture and art based on the space and identity of the cinema, is introduced and the project continues. Is in progress.

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Lotte also recently launched the European Classical Concert Tour Planning Exhibition, which showcases performances by world-renowned classical musicians in Paris, France, Munich, Germany, and Prague, Czech Republic. The cinema operator has also hosted special screenings of films such as “The Banshees of Inisherin” with a film critic in attendance who discusses the film with the audience. All of these initiatives are seen as creating added value and enhancing the cinema going experience. The same is true for the third-largest cinema operator:

Megabox is also presenting several curated lecture programs called “Cinema Reading Case” in partnership with the popular YouTube channel “Kim Bok-Jun’s Incident Request” team. In addition, various curation programs such as “Cine Docent,” where you can meet the world’s leading museums, “Cinema Reading Cinema” with movie commentary by a psychological counselor, and “Cinema Replay” with film critic Lee Dong-jin.

Megabox said, “At the end of 2021, the brand slogan was changed to ‘Meet, Play, Share” which means “meeting” various contents and “playing” at Megabox and “sharing” experiences and values. “Megabox, which aims to be a space platform beyond theaters, plans to continue providing various experiential values to customers and conducting business activities that enable them to communicate together.”

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Together the three Korean cinema majors demonstrate why Korea is a country that cinema operators in Western Europe and North America could draw inspiration from as they too re-think the cinema experience.

Patrick von Sychowski
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