South Korea has become the last major global cinema territory to see a strong recovery, thanks to a combination of Marvel and a lifting of restrictions. “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” scored an impressive USD $29.1 million five-day opening, off a USD $14.4 million opening weekend, over the Golden Holiday. The film was helped by the easing of restrictions on seating and a lifting of a ban on eating and drinking in cinemas. However, customers have complained about a lack of service as staffing levels in cinemas are just half of their pre-pandemic level.
Total attendance in Korea for the whole of May is now expected to exceed 10 million, which would be a first in Korea since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Ticket sales had slumped in the previous months of 2022, dropping from 5.72 million in January, to February’s 3.28 million, March 2.8 million, and April 3.12 million, marking a disappointing start to the year.
The success of the latest Marvel film in South Korea has not been without problems, however, with many audiences complaining about poor service at the multiplexes. This is because the major Korean cinema chain laid off a significant proportion of their staff during the pandemic. Cinemas are currently operating with only around half of their pre-pandemic staff levels, with no sign of the shortage being reversed any time soon. Attention is instead switching to increasing automation. Korea’s largest cinema chain CJ CGV had 3,558 employees in 2021, compared to a pre-pandemic 2019 level of 7,068. Read the full story on Celluloid Junkie.