CGV Yongsan in Seoul stands nearly empty on April 20. (Yonhap)
The sums that cinemas contribute every month to a fund to support local film will be reduced by 90 percent as part of a plan to assist theaters hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism said Tuesday.
The number of moviegoers plunged to 1.83 million in March, the lowest for the month since the Korean Film Council began compiling box office data in 2004.
Currently, movie theaters are required to contribute 3 percent of their ticket sales to the Korean Film Council every month to support the local film indiustry. Under the plan, which applies retroactively from February, they will only have to give 0.3 percent.
Independent movie theaters and small theaters with less than 1 billion won ($809,939.60) in annual sales are not required to pay into the fund.
The Finance Ministry will soon review the plan and the government will have to revise the current law.
A grace period for payment into the fund will also be instituted. Cinemas can delay paying their 0.3 percent until the end of this year, without incurring late fees.
The Culture Ministry and Korean Film Council agreed to use 17 billion won from the movie development fund to assist the film industry. Currently, a total of 4.2 billion won is earmarked to help film companies that had to delay movie releases due to the pandemic.
The fund will also support vocational training for 700 film industry personnel who lost their jobs or cannot find freelance work due to the spread of the respiratory illness.
Meanwhile, the government said it will soon come up with a detailed plan to normalize the movie industry post-pandemic. So far, the government said it is considering injecting some 3 billion won to assist around 200 small and medium-sized independent movie theaters. The ministry also aims to use around 9 billion won for movie ticket discount coupons. More details will be announced by the beginning of May.
By Song Seung-hyun (firstname.lastname@example.org