SEOUL, Feb. 18 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's three major multiplex chain operators have seen their respective 2020 sales plunge nearly 70 percent from a year earlier due to the fallout of the yearlong novel coronavirus pandemic, data showed Thursday.
Industry leader CJ CGV, the cinema affiliate under the wing of entertainment giant CJ Group, said its sales reached 583.4 billion won (US$527.9 million) last year, down 70 percent from the previous year.
It shifted to an operating loss of 392.5 billion won in 2020 from an operating profit of 121.9 billion won the previous year, while its net loss widened 745.2 billion won from 239 billion won over the cited period.
Lotte Cultureworks, which runs Lotte Cinema, posted a 65.5 percent on-year drop in its 2020 sales to 266 billion won from 771 billion won over the one-year period.
Its operating loss reached 160.5 billion won last year, swinging from an operating profit of 1 billion won the previous year.
J Contentree, which owns Megabox, said sales of its theater business tumbled 68 percent on-year to 104.5 billion won last year from 332.8 billion won in 2019.
It swung to an operating deficit of 65.5 billion won last year, from an operating profit of 39 billion won.
The weak bottomlines of the three largest multiplex chains came as the South Korean film industry was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic throughout last year.
The number of moviegoers dived 73.7 percent on-year to 59.5 million in 2020 from 226.7 million in 2019, with the 2020 total revenue plunging 73.3 percent to 510.4 billion won from 1.9 trillion won.
"Theater operators saw their deficits widen last year as the audience number fell sharply due to strong social distancing and postponements of film releases," Shin Su-yeon, an analyst at Shingyong Securities, said. "South Korea's box office is expected to return to normal in the second half of 2021."