Korean exhibitors Lotte Cinemas and Cinus have joined Megabox in raising ticket prices, in an almost industry-wide move that marks the first ticket price increases in eight years.

Tickets which have been selling at $5.50 (W7,000) on weekdays and $6.20 (W8,000) on weekends and public holidays since 2001, will now go up to $6.20 (W8,000) and $7.06 (W9,000) respectively.

Megabox started the trend ten days ago when it stated it would raise ticket prices, starting with its multiplexes in the Seoul area, implementing the price hike by stages around the country. Lotte and Cinus followed suit, announcing they would implement the new ticket prices today (July 1).

Of the nation’s three major exhibitors – CJ CGV, Lotte and Megabox – only CJ CGV and its affiliate Primus have not raised prices.

The theatre chains cite the rising prices of commodities, wages and investment in theatre facilities, including digital projection, as reasons for the price increases.

With DVD and other ancillary markets suffering, the local film industry is dependent on box office receipts for 80% of profits and so cautiously welcomes the raise.

Although the Korea Fair Trade Commission has brought up the issue of price-fixing, stock market experts believe that it will not be a problem for the exhibitors. Prices of commodities have gone up 15.7% in Korea since 2001, while cinema ticket prices have only gone up only 3.8%.

A recent survey by Korea’s largest ticket reservation service, Maxmovie, showed that 55% of 7,033 respondents said they would not change their cinema-going habits after the price hike. This is similar to the 60.2% of respondents surveyed six months before the price hike announcements in December of last year.