The South Korean multiplex movie theater chain, MEGABOX, is one of the three largest cinema companies in the country. With over a hundred locations and 700+ screens for showing, the brand is influential in the lives of South Korean moviegoers, to say the least.
Hence on October 23, 2021 (KST), when a Twitter user @dang_dong00 questioned if the brand might be insinuating something—attaching pictures of a crumpled movie poster on display, it inevitably sparked an online debate about misogyny in Korea. According to the tweet, the poster for the 2019 political thriller movie Seberg, featuring actress Kristen Stewart as the female lead, has been tampered with.
The tweet pointed out that, in comparison to the other posters on display at the Goyang Starfield location, the Seberg poster is visibly creased from folding and—though not immediately evident in the picture taken—ripped with holes, too.
Some idiot at Starfield Goyang MEGABOX is [still] doing this. Ha, I’ve only seen this happen on Twitter. So yes, I’m baffled that I’m actually seeing this in person.
— Twitter User @dang_dong00
When the tweet went viral, other Koreans came forward with previous instances of when MEGABOX “discriminated” against certain movie posters. According to one of the tweets from July 2021, MEGABOX Isu location also tampered with the Black Widow…
…and Cruella posters before displaying them.
The posters for ‘Black Widow’ and ‘Cruella’ seem unusually creased. What’s going on here? These are on display at the MEGABOX Isu location. ‘Cruella’ isn’t as visible as ‘Black Widow’ but it is still crumpled. The pictures may not capture how badly, but they are visibly tampered with. Maybe this is a misunderstanding, maybe this is a coincidence. But honestly, what movie theater with common sense would treat their promotional posters like this? And display them like this? I can’t help but be suspicious.
— Twitter User @spacenanda
Another tweet dated as far back as October 2019, showing how the MEGABOX Wonju Central location allegedly tampered with the poster for Kim Ji-Young: Born 1982. Note that this particular movie and its novel original have both been dubbed Korea’s “most feminist” works since their releases.
고의입니까 메가박스? pic.twitter.com/2Cp8HpLIDs
— 🐾리코와 체다는 집을 찾는다옹🐾 (@Rice_cake_cats) October 19, 2019
Are you doing this on purpose, MEGABOX?
— Twitter User @Rice_cake_cats
While MEGABOX Isu once responded to the speculations around these damaged posters, it neither provided a satisfactory explanation to those who questioned the phenomenon nor resolved any of the future instances.
Hello, this is MEGABOX Isu. First of all, thank you for visiting the theater and sending us your inquiry. Regarding the posters, please understand that as they are made of paper, they are prone to creases and other damages during shipping and handling. We will, however, replace the current posters with new ones that are in better shape. In addition, we will communicate the issue with the distributors and promise to take better care of the posters going forward. And at this time, we would like to clarify that the conditions of these posters have nothing to do with the movies…
— MEGABOX Isu via an online response to Twitter User @spacenanda
Collectively, the tweets have voiced concern that, based on how all the movies affected by the “creep behavior” feature female leads, the theater brand itself (or someone on the inside) may be misogynistic.
- “When this first happened, I thought maybe people are overreacting. But now, I think it’s pretty clear that this is being done intentionally. What’s wrong with people?”
- “Well, I think the fact that this is not the first time the theater got accused over the posters yet it continues to allow this happen says a lot about MEGABOX. They obviously don’t mind the buzz.”
- “Wow, what the heck is going on here? This is honestly super dumb.”
- “Posters come rolled. People who have worked at MEGABOX before have shared that they come rolled, not folded. So this isn’t an overreaction. Besides, what business promotes with damaged material like that? Where is the common sense? This doesn’t make sense.”
- “Hmm. I mean… This is a repeated issue. It’s always the female-led movies. It’s the same problem with the posters being creased. That can’t all be coincidental, people are definitely not overreacting.”
Though MEGABOX has not responded to the most recent tweet about the Seberg poster, the Goyang Starfield location is said to have replaced the poster since the Twitter uproar. Regardless, Koreans continue to discuss the posters and rally for an official response and/or apology by submitting complaints to the MEGABOX headquarters.
Why isn’t MEGABOX taking any action when this is becoming a regular occurrence? This is not the first time a female-led movie poster has been terrorized? As moviegoers, how can we trust MEGABOX to be a professionally operating business facility when it can’t even handle promotional posters with care prior to displaying them for its guests?
— Twitter User @ihategyeowool
Read more about what is reportedly driving the divide in Korean society.