On the surface, it sounds outrageous. According to Darcy Paquet of Variety, earlier this week the head of the Korean Association of Film Art & Industry said: "There has been no significant rise in ticket prices in the past seven years, so we are pushing for prices" at a higher level. Here's what that sounds like to me: 'We're not making enough money from our movies because not enough of you are coming to see them, so now you should pay more for the privilege.' There are, however, other factors involved.

First, while most ticket prices in the US are set by theater chains, the price of admission varies according to the size of the market and the location of the theater. In South Korean capital Seoul, though, Variety says prices are "broadly uniform, with top levels ranging from $7.60 to $8.70 (7000-8000 won). Regional theaters outside of the capital tend to charge less." Second, while US distributors can often more than offset theatrical box office disappointments with ancillary sales (DVD, pay per view, cable), "the average Korean film earns 70-80% of its revenues via its theatrical release." Reportedly, only 10% of South Korean films this year have earned enough at the box office to break even.

Variety's Paquet also runs a very fine personal site (Koreanfilm.org), where he commented earlier this month: "Maybe the bigger issue ... is that Korean audiences just don't seem as excited about local films anymore. It's still not clear to me whether this is a cyclical thing, due to a lack of interesting movies this year, or the first sign of a longer decline. ... From a commercial standpoint, there was very little to get excited about." Judging from a variety of world cinema sites that I visit on a regular basis, recent Korean films are generating far less excitement on the international front as well. But will charging higher admission prices help or hinder the South Korean film industry?
categories Movies, Cinematical