A year of big hits
While 2019 had been a great year for South Korean cinema and movie theaters, with the beginning of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the industry was hit hard. Recovery began in 2021, and the industry continues to be centered mainly around big blockbuster movies. The biggest movie of the year was "The Roundup", a Korean crime action film starring several leading Korean actors such as Ma Dong-seok. This was followed by the American action drama "Top Gun: Maverick" and "Avatar: The Way of Water". American productions accounted for around 41 percent of the box office revenue that year, while domestic moves contributed over half of the total revenue. As of December 2022, "Extreme Job" was the highest grossing domestic movie ever to be shown in South Korea, while "Avatar" was the highest grossing foreign movie.
Cinemas and COVID-19
After the huge success in 2019, the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) slowed ticket sales immensely. While the ticket sales revenue in January 2020 lay at around 143.7 billion won, one year later the sales revenue lay at only 15.8 billion won. By December 2022 this had risen to 157.7 billion won, exceeding the January 2020 figure. The number of visitors went down from 16.8 million to just 1.8 million respectively, before recovering to around 14.2 million in December of 2022. While regular cinemas are struggling, consumers find other ways to watch movies, for example by visiting drive-in cinemas or using online streaming services.