Asia Minute: Shifting Regional Box Office Means Busy Theaters

Mar 1, 2021

Some movie theaters are open around the state, while others remain closed. That’s the case in much of the country, but in parts of Asia more movie theaters are in use – and not just for films.

In South Korea, movie theatres are looking to diversify — at least for the time being.

The Chosun Ilbo reports that all three major theater chains in the country have started to rent out their screens for video gaming — linking socially distant crowds. They’re also clearing space to create small stages for stand-up comedy, which is apparently drawing some folks with limited seating.

In China, they’re still counting on movies, and business is brisk.

The week-long Lunar New Year broke box office records, with ticket sales up by about a third from a year earlier. That’s according to the online ticketing platform Maoyan Entertainment — which put holiday sales at more than 1.2 billion dollars.

The Associated Press quotes figures showing the popularity of movies continued through all of February — setting a monthly record of more than 1.7 billion dollars in ticket sales.

Movie theaters have been open in China since the summer, but seating is still limited to half of capacity. Even so, steady crowds combined with depressed U.S. ticket sales pushed China past the United States last year as the world’s biggest movie market.

There’s been another beneficiary to this trend — movies made in China.

Hollywood is not pumping out its usual volume of big-screen blockbusters these days, and domestically-made features from China are taking advantage.