In South Korea, MERS' Surprising Impact on 'Jurassic World'

Mask for MERS South Korea - H 2015
AP Images

Mask for MERS South Korea - H 2015

Release dates for local films were pushed due to the scare, leaving theaters wide open for Hollywood success.

This story first appeared in the July 3 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

The outbreak of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome in South Korea that has killed at least 27 people has had a strange effect on Hollywood films in a market usually dominated by local releases. Movie attendance began to plummet in late May, hitting an all-time low of 1.55 million admissions during the weekend beginning June 5. But the trend did not stop San Andreas from earning an above-average $12.8 million during that period, and Jurassic World grossed $27.5 million the following weekend.

Industry watchers attribute those successes in part to the fact that several highly anticipated local films have been postponed. Changing release dates is relatively easy in South Korea because many cinema chains are owned by local distributors. The U.S. studio movies, however, have continued to open because their schedules are locked in. Jurassic World was supposed to face stiff competition from the big-budget war drama Northern Limit Line, but the latter's release was pushed to June 24 thanks to what distributor Next Entertainment World called the current "social climate and public sentiment." And romantic comedy The Beauty Inside was pushed from July to August, clearing a path for Terminator: Genisys, set to open July 2. According to the Korean Film Council, Hollywood movies have accounted for 54.2 percent of 2015's domestic box-office revenue as of June 22, with local titles taking in 40.2 percent — a drop of nearly 10 percent from 2014 and 20 percent lower than in 2013.