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Collectible tickets attract moviegoers in pandemic times

Lotte Cinema’s Signature Art Card for “Along with the Gods: The Last 49 Days,” which reopened Jan. 21 (Lotte Cinema)
Lotte Cinema’s Signature Art Card for “Along with the Gods: The Last 49 Days,” which reopened Jan. 21 (Lotte Cinema)

During the COVID-19 pandemic, we lost the traditional moviegoing experience.

But even before the virus, lines stopped forming at ticket booths and printed movie tickets became a thing of the past as e-tickets replaced them. Cinemagoers could simply present their smartphone screens to show their tickets.

Yet on Jan. 27, people lined up in front of the ticket booths at local Megabox branches to get limited-edition tickets for the Japanese animation “Demon Slayer: Mugen Train.”

Megabox’s Original Tickets, launched in July 2019 with “Spider-Man: Far From Home,” are special collectible tickets that feature movie-themed pictures or illustrations. All Megabox members who watch the movie can receive an Original Ticket for free at the ticket booth, but there is only a limited number available.

A Megabox spokesperson said these tickets showed how movie-themed merchandise attracted people to theaters.

“We decide the design and amount (of the tickets) after a discussion with a movie distributor,” she told The Korea Herald.

“Along with the tickets, we also had other ‘Demon Slayer: Mugen Train’-themed merchandise like cards with illustrations of characters in the animation and puzzles. They were all sold out before noon on the release date.”

These collectible tickets are not easy to come by.

“I tried getting a Megabox Original Ticket for ‘Demon Slayer: Mugen Train’ but I failed,” Kim Min-joo, a moviegoer in her 20s, told The Korea Herald. “I own an Original Ticket for ‘Joker.’ Back then these tickets were not as popular so it was easy to get them.”

Kim added that she would keep on collecting Original Tickets because they felt special to her.

“Ordinary paper movie tickets usually look like receipts and do not seem like they would be worth collecting. But these tickets are different. They are pretty and show characteristics of different movies,” Kim said. 

Megabox’s Original Ticket for “Joker” (Song Seung-hyun/The Korea Herald)
Megabox’s Original Ticket for “Joker” (Song Seung-hyun/The Korea Herald)

She explained that her “Joker” ticket consisted of two photos of protagonist Arthur Fleck -- one as himself and one in his Joker disguise -- with the ordinary picture showing just half his face and transparent film where the other half would be.

Considering how effective this strategy has been in attracting moviegoers, multiplex giants CJ CGV and Lotte Cinema began offering similar merchandise last year as the pandemic affected their business.

CJ CGV launched its Film Mark merchandise in August for the blockbuster film “Tenet.”

CJ CGV’s Film Mark for the US film “Tenet,” directed by Christopher Nolan (CJ CGV)
CJ CGV’s Film Mark for the US film “Tenet,” directed by Christopher Nolan (CJ CGV)

Film Marks recall the design of an analog film, with scenes from the movies on them. Like Original Tickets, Film Marks are handed out to moviegoers at no additional cost.

Since they are so popular, so far CJ CGV has launched Film Marks for five movies.

“The ‘Tenet’ Film Mark was considered particularly special for fans as it had a picture of Robert Pattinson on it, which was considered a rare item for ‘Tenet’-themed merchandise among the movie’s fans,” a CJ CGV spokesperson said.

Lotte Cinema launched its “Signature Art Cards” in July for “Tenet,” followed by more for the Korean film “Peninsula,” the prequel to the hit film “Train to Busan” and the Disney-Pixar animated film “Soul.”

“‘Soul’ cards are our 16th Signature Art Card,” a Lotte Cinema spokesperson said. “We also released two special (tickets), called Signature Tickets, for movies ‘Tenet’ and ‘Mr. Trot.’”

At 15 centimeters by 20 centimeters, Lotte Cinema’s Signature Art Cards are bigger than Original Tickets and Film Marks, which are around the size of conventional movie tickets. Each Signature Art Card features a line from the movie on the back, or an autographed message from the director or one of the stars.

“As there are moviegoers who are collecting these special cards, we also plan to launch a binder like an album for Signature Art Card collectors around the end of February,” the spokesperson said.

By Song Seung-hyun (