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Cinema operators to give ticket revenues to distributors of ‘Escape from Mogadishu,’ ‘Sinkhole’

Poster of “Escape from Mogadishu,” directed by Ryoo Seung-wan (Lotte Entertainment)
Poster of “Escape from Mogadishu,” directed by Ryoo Seung-wan (Lotte Entertainment)

The Korean Theater Association, which includes the top three local multiplex operators -- CGV, Lotte Cinema, Megabox -- among its members, has thrown a lifeline to two film distributors to encourage the release of their high-budget movies, “Escape from Mogadishu” and “Sinkhole,” it announced on Tuesday.

Instead of splitting the ticket sales 50:50 between theaters and film distributors as is the practice, the theaters will forgo ticket sales proceeds until the amount reaches 50 percent of the two films’ total production cost. Lotte Entertainment is the distributor for “Escape from Mogadishu,” while Showbox is the distributor for “Sinkhole.”

The decision came after the Korean Theater Association and local distributors held several meetings that were organized by the Korean Film Council. At the meetings, local distributors had asked for a minimum safety net.

In 2020, the number of people who visited local theaters plunged 74 percent from the year before, which is the lowest since the Korean Film Council started compiling box office data in 2004.

To shore up the film industry, local theaters gave distributors 1,000 won in subsidies per audience member between February and March this year. However, the measure was not able to spur release of large-scale films, which they had hoped would attract more moviegoers.

Meanwhile, the Korea IPTV Broadcasting Association, which includes telecom carriers KT, SK Broadband and LG U+ as its members, and cable operator Home Choice also agreed to provide 80 percent of sales revenue from movies released on their services to the two distributors. It is around 20 percentage points higher than the current distribution rate. 

A scene from “Sinkhole” directed by Kim Ji-hoon (Showbox)
A scene from “Sinkhole” directed by Kim Ji-hoon (Showbox)

The theater association and IPTV operators also added that they will further support other local distributors as well through diverse marketing strategies.

The action film “Escape from Mogadishu,” starring Kim Yoon-seok and Jo In-sung, is directed by star director Ryoo Seung-wan, who directed multiple hit films like “The Berlin File,” “The Unjust” and “Veteran.” The film is based on the true story of diplomats in South and North Korean missions in Somalia during the 1991 civil war.

The comedy film “Sinkhole” directed by Kim Ji-hoon is a film about an unexpected sinkhole appearing in Chungwoon Villa, a cheap apartment building. Popular actors such as Cha Seung-won, Kim Sung-kyun and Lee Kwang-soo appear in the film as victims of the sinkhole.

While both movies are set to be released this summer, the exact dates of their release have yet to be announced.

By Song Seung-hyun (