BTS Are Back Outfit

BTS Are Back: Pop Outfit Plays First In-Person Show in South Korea in Over Two Years
Check out the photos from the band’s first of three gigs at the Olympic Stadium in Seoul

BTS made a triumphant return to the stage in Seoul, playing their first of three shows at the Olympic Stadium in the South Korean capital Thursday, March 10.

Not only did the show mark the group’s first in several months — following a sold-out four-night run at Los Angeles’ SoFi Stadium in December — but it was also BTS’ first show for a live audience in South Korea since their Oct. 2019 Love Yourself: Speak Yourself gig (also at the Olympic Stadium). BTS will play two more Permission to Dance on Stage — Seoul shows, March 12 and 13; the March 12 gig will be broadcast in select movie theaters around the world, while the March 13 show will stream online via Weverse.

While BTS’ return to the stage in Seoul was, of course, a major occasion, ongoing Covid concerns kept it from becoming the all-out celebration it surely would’ve been under normal circumstances. As The New York Times noted, the Seoul Olympic Stadium can seat about 70,000 people, but attendance was limited to just 15,000. Fans were not only required to stay masked during the show, but were prohibited from cheering, screaming, or singing along.

Despite the constraints, BTS still filled the Olympic Stadium with a career-spanning selection of hits. The group’s first-night setlist included performances of “On,” “Burning Up (Fire),” “DNA,” “Dynamite,” Butter,” and, of course, “Permission to Dance.” (Check out a few more photographs from the concert below.)

Following their run in South Korea, BTS will return to the United States for a four-night stand at the Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, on April 8, 9, 15, and 16. At the end of 2021, BTS’ label Big Hit released a letter that noted the group was also prepping a new album to mark the start of a new chapter.

Trafalgar Releasing will present two Saturday screenings of BTS Permission to Dance on Stage: Seoul on some 700 screens in the U.S. and Canada and 3,000 screens worldwide. Shows to some territories including North America will be tape-delayed given the time difference. (If it were live to the U.S., it would screen at 3:45 a.m. ET.) The ticket price is premium for theaters but dwarfed by the outlay required for in-person concert tickets, if you can get them. It’s why exhibitors really like this growing space.

“I am very encouraged there is a live concert. It’s selling very, very well, and we are adding screens where we can,” said Sonny Gourley, VP Film at Marcus Theatres. “I know it’s BTS, but maybe we have got something here [for] someone who does not want to pay hundreds of dollars. I wish I could tell you that the next Billy Joel and Foo Fighters [concerts] are in our theaters.”

“We go to where the live technology is installed and to the best venues and the best markets,” said Trafalgar CEO Marc Allenby. The distributor has worked with the massively popular K-pop group on previous films, “so we have a good understanding of where their fan base is.” It said BTS’ 2019 Burn the Stage, with theatrical grosses of roughly $18.5M, holds the worldwide record for event cinema, defined as an engagement of less than one week.

A Cinemark rep said the chain’s been seeing “great enthusiasm” on social and through ticket sales for this stop on the latest world tour series headlined by the pop icons.

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