The Film Industry's Movement to Get Out of the Crisis1)
On January 4, a notice was posted on the Cheongwadae's National Petition Board entitled "Please protect the film industry from collapsing due to COVID-19". The notice clearly showed the current precarious state of the film industry and it can be seemed that this crisis was attributed to empty theaters and cancelled film festivals. According to a survey conducted by the Korea Film Council on December 14, 2020, theater ticket sales in 2020 dropped about 70% compared to the previous year, and 10 theaters closed their doors temporarily while 18 shut down completely. In general, more than half of the earnings for the film industry comes from theaters. That is, the number of theatergoers is important to the survival of the film industry, but social distancing policies implemented after the spread of COVID-19 has led to a decrease in audience numbers. In addition, film distributors, because of reduced theatergoers, postponed film release dates indefinitely, which only lead to a further decrease in theatergoers. Despite the pandemic, theaters are still having to pay the same rent fees and management costs as before the pandemic, and the voices of affected parties are growing. Moreover, beloved film festivals that were once gateways for new directors and a strong prop for independent films have been cancelled one after another due to COVID-19, and the films and directors that are the hope for the film industry future are not seeing any light. For example, late December of last year, the Seoul Independent Documentary Film Festival said it would temporarily suspend its hosting and secretariat operations, and the Mise-en-scene Short Film Festival, which was set to mark its 20th anniversary, has been cancelled. As these examples highlight, the film industry is facing crises sequentially.
Meanwhile, despite the dark situation, movements have been started to revitalize the film industry. CGV theaters has temporarily decided to rent out its locations, and it fully booked every day. In addition, another movie theater held a masterpiece reopening exhibition as a substitute for new work that was not previously released due to COVID-19, which received much acclaim from young audiences. According to the 2020 Korean film industry's settlement data surveyed by the Korea Film Council, the number of re-released films was 95 in 2019 but surged to 250 in 2020 in an effort to lead audiences back to theaters. With effort to revive the film industry continuing, a clear film industry recovery is likely if practical alternatives are initiated by the government and the Korea Film Council.
1) Choi Youngjoo, "The Film Industry Crisis…need to Be Aware of the Seriousness and Come up With Countermeasures", nocutnews, January 5, 2021