More people are going back to theaters to game, not to watch movies

It’s no secret the pandemic has taken a huge toll on the theater industry, but some chains are getting clever to offset some of these losses. BBC reports that CGV, the largest cinema company in South Korea, has been allowing gamers to rent its screens for two-hour chunks, costing $90 before 6PM, then going up to $135 later in the evening.

That’s a lot of money, especially since gamers need to come bearing their own consoles, controllers, and games. But hey, where else can you play games on a screen that’s at least 20 feet long with bombastic sound quality?

Given the opportunity, I’d bring my PS5 so I could play through the last few layers in Bloodborne’s Chalice Dungeons standing in my way of a platinum trophy (it’s a PS4 game, I know!). Destruction AllStars would probably look and sound fantastic, too. Though, before I get too excited, I’m a little skeptical that a DualSense, or really any wireless controller could fare being too far from the console to which it’s paired.

The company calls this service “AzitX,” a play on the Korean word “azit,” meaning hideout.

Even with bookings from gamers, CGV told BBC they make nothing close to what a usual, pre-pandemic night could bring in. A 100-seat auditorium filled to half capacity would bring in $600 alone, not including the cost of food. But the company says its screens have been booked more than 130 times since launching the service in late January 2021, so it’s popular — mostly among men in their 30s and 40s. Couples and families are renting screens, too, according CGV. The company calls this service “AzitX,” a play on the Korean word “azit,” meaning hideout.

The report also points out that US theater company Malco Theaters, which owns 36 cinemas in southern states, has been allowing people to rent screens for gaming or private viewing. It has a name for this service, called Malco Select Gaming, and pricing is set at $100 for two hours or $150 for three hours. You can bring up to 20 guests. Malco specifies on its FAQ that any console that connects with an HDMI port can be used, and you can connect via Ethernet to play online, which is cool. However, you can’t host a stream there, so leave your ring light setup at home.

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