Should American cinemas be upping their game to bolster ticket sales in our post-pandemic era? The Korean Theater Association knew something had to be done to increase moviegoers’ desire to get back to the movies. This is why they have instituted a major discount to individuals who can prove that they have had at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine.
While South Korea has done relatively well with containing the virus, movie theaters have not seen the benefits. South Korean cinema has not been able to recover since October and is fast approaching rock-bottom lows. The discount offered to vaccinated individuals will be as much as KRW6,000, or $5.40 in U.S. dollars. This amount is more than half of the regular ticket cost at many participating theaters. With an incentive like this, the president of the Korea Theater Association hopes theaters can do their part to encourage citizens to get vaccinated and back to their normal lives as soon as possible. Surely an extension of this hope is that people’s normal lives involve going back to theaters.
South Korea is not alone — the box office has been struggling globally, and the United States is no exception. While the impressive performance of “A Quiet Place: Part II” is promising, there is still much work to be done for American theaters. So: should the United States copy South Korea? Is incentivizing vaccinations even legal here? The simple answer is yes.
Companies have been quick to incentivize vaccinations, with the general hope of bolstering the economy and, in turn, their businesses. Krispy Kreme has offered free donuts to customers with their vaccine card on-hand. Cinemas in Cleveland are giving away free popcorn, and a dispensary in Michigan is even handing out pre-rolled joints.
If I know one thing about Americans, it’s that we love free stuff. Perhaps popcorn, better seats, or just a general discount is exactly what theaters need in order to lure in moviegoers. While it certainly will not solve the problem, it is a step in the right direction.