Due to the Coronavirus-induced social distancing norms, cinema halls have been allowed to open to only 50% capacity in South Korea. To further ensure that cinemagoers restrict their visit to cinemas across the country, only a few movies are released in the theatre. This impact has hurt the revenue model of many cinemas. However, CGV, South Korea’s largest cinema chain, has come up with a new revenue stream. It is renting out its auditoriums to gamers for $90, and up to 4 people can rent a screen for two hours.
These auditoriums can seat up to 200 people. Users would have to carry their own games, controllers, and consoles. If compared, each CGV movie ticket costs approx $12, so a 100-seater auditorium half-filled would bring in around 600$ as revenue, which can rise to $1,200 for a 200-seater auditorium at 50% capacity.
Though opening up the cinemas to the gamers is not bringing an additional profit to CGV, it certainly is a clever idea for an additional income. This service was launched by CGV at the beginning of the year, and gamers have booked it 130 times since then. CGV in South Korea is also allowing customers to get the cinemas’ food such as nachos and popcorn delivered to make extra money.
The global cinema industry has been gravely impacted by the pandemic. As per the magazine Variety, the ticket sales globally experienced a dip from $42.5bn in 2019 to $12.4bn (£8.9bn) in 2020. Even in the US, AMC Theatres, the country’s largest cinema chain, needed $917m in December to keep away reports that it required bankruptcy protection. Also, in the UK, leading British film-makers sought help from the government to offer financial support for the country’s cinemas.
Korea’s CGV is not the only chain that is letting gamers book auditoriums, even US group Malco Theatres is offering its auditoriums to gamers. Malco Theatres is based out of Memphis with cinemas across Louisiana, Missouri, Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Tennessee. This chain of cinemas allows a maximum of 20 people to hire a screen at $100 for two or $150 for three hours. In the UK, cinemas are closed due to restrictions. However, one of the cinemas of the Odeon chain located in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire has been used as a Covid-19 vaccination center.
Experience of gaming in Cinemas
Eui Jeong Lee and her friends play a video game on the giant screen in an empty 200-seater auditorium. The four friends rented one of the cinemas’ auditorium for two hours in South Korea’s CGV.
As Ms. Lee blasts her opponents with her controller, the numerous speakers in the cinema auditorium whip a loud sound around the dark room. According to Ms. Lee, the sound quality in the cinemas’ auditorium is particularly amazing and the vivid sound helps them enjoy a real-time gaming experience.