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With fewer new films to show, cinemas turn to alternative content

“Classical Wine” poster (Megabox)
“Classical Wine” poster (Megabox)

Cinemas have introduced several new films since the start of June, but Korean multiplex operators continue to occupy empty screens with an assortment of alternative cultural content.

Starting from June 22, major cinema operator Megabox will kick off this year’s “Popcorn Classic” program, an introductory lecture series on classic hobbies and interests, the company announced. The program began in 2017 under the Megabox curation brand “Classic Society.”

According to Megabox, this year’s lectures will be divided into three sections: “Classical Wine,” “Classical Opera” and “Classical Furniture.” Eight lectures are scheduled through the end of October. The initial lecture on June 22, titled “In Vino Veritas,” deals with wine.

Megabox members can reserve tickets through the company’s website, at Tickets cost 12,000 won, and “Classic Society” members get a 10 percent discount. The lectures will take place either at the Coex or Central branch, both in southern Seoul.

CGV, a multiplex chain run by entertainment giant CJ Group, launched the cultural curation brand “SCON” -- meaning “special content” -- earlier this month, expanding into content other than film.

According to the company, SCON will consist of four sections. The “Stage” section offers screenings of operas, musicals and K-pop concerts recorded live. Lectures, book discussions and related events will be part of the “Library” section. The “Play” section will allow audience participation in sports matches and e-sports tournaments. Finally, the “Channel” section will introduce repackaged television shows adapted for the big screen.

Ahead of launching the brand, CGV livestreamed a popular e-sports competition, the 2020 Mid-Season Cup League of Legends, at its ScreenX theaters.

Since March, Lotte Cinema has been showcasing live recordings of renowned ballet and opera productions from London’s Royal Opera House at nine of its branches nationwide as of its “Opera in Cinema” program.

Korean cinemas are dealing with the worst crisis in their history in the COVID-19 pandemic, which has caused the number of moviegoers to plummet since February. While the monthly number saw a slight increase in May from the previous month, the figure -- 1.53 million in total -- was almost 91 percent lower compared to the same month last year.

By Choi Ji-won (