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Monday, October 10, 2011

Korean Box Office Update (10/07-10/09, 2011)

Weekend of October 7-9, 2011:

Title Release Date Weekend Total
1 The Crucible 9/22/11 447,049 3,743,065
2 The Client 9/29/11 395,973 1,456,121
3 Fighting Spirit 10/6/11 90,941 120,802
4 Real Steel (us) 10/12/11 73,738 74,127
5 Countdown 9/29/11 61,010 403,805
6 Arrow, The Ultimate Weapon 8/10/11 50,536 7,378,874
7 The Three Musketeers (uk) 10/12/11 41,083 45,537
8 The Debt (us) 10/6/11 31,606 37,922
9 From up on Poppy Hill (jp) 9/29/11 30,082 168,018
10 Mr. Popper's Penguins (us) 9/7/11 16,337 967,290
- Leafie, A Hen Into the Wild 7/27/11 3,952 2,193,214
- Punch 10/20/11 3,233 6,350
- Marrying the Mafia IV 9/7/11 2,535 2,362,103
- Sunny 5/4/11 1,332 7,373,387
- The Day He Arrives 9/8/11 508 40,451

Box office was down significantly this weekend with a total take of 1.29 million but this was still a strong figure given the time of year. This is now the 11th consecutive weekend that a Korean film has claimed the top spot at the box office. Indeed, Korean films dominated the marquees with 5 of the top 6 spots and an 81% market share. To put this in perpective, the same figures for the comparable weekends of the last 3 years were:

2010: 1.09 million adms. - 50%
2009: 1.06 million adms. - 70%
2008: 1.28 million adms. - 32%

The Crucible aka Silenced, which has inundated Korean media of late as the real-life figures it depicts are now under investigation, held onto its top spot. However, after last weekend's astonishing increase it tumbled 56%, this was still enough for a big 447,049 frame but its lead was much narrower than expected. It currently has 3,743,065 admissions and sits at no.4 on the yearly domestic chart, just after Detective K, which it will pass before long. I'm keen to see how it holds over the coming weeks, it should be the third film to cross 5 million in 2011 but I don't think it will have enough steam to challenge the top two spots.

The Client, which despite being completely overshadowed by The Crucible last weekend, had a strong opening weekend and has held very well in its second weekend of general release with a drop of 26%. This brings its total to 1,456,121 and it it continues to play well throughout October it should become the sixth Korean film of the year to cross 3 million admissions.

The sole local platform release this week was Fighting Spirit, Kim Sang-jin's new baseball comedy, it mustered a weak 90,941 opening weekend. Kim's films, which include Attack the Gas Station (1999), Kick the Moon (2001), Jailbreakers (2002), and Ghost House (2004), used to always wind up in the yearly top 5. 2009's Attack the Gas Station 2 was his first film since before Korean cinema's resurgence which failed to break the 1 million mark but Fighting Spirit, which has garnered decent reviews but sported a relatively tepid marketing campaign, looks to fall well short of the former's 731,426 total. It's sad to see one of Korean cinema's brightest embers start to fade away.

Countdown, which opened to lower than expected figures has suffered a precipitous fall (63%) and attracted a measly 61,010 viewers over the frame. It's total now stands at 403,805 but it will likely drop out of the top 10 very soon, maybe as early as next week. This is a disappointing performance from a well-received film which features two big stars, Jeon Do-yeon and Jeong Jae-yeong. Clearly, name recognition is not the drawing factor it used to be in Korean cinema.

Arrow, The Ultimate Weapon dropped 50% for a 50,536 total, this was enough for it to claim the top spot of the year over Sunny but only by 5,000. Despite all the huge blockbusters that held the weight of expectations on their shoulders like Sector 7, Quick, and The Front Line, this late summer entry which debuted with much less buzz than the previously mentioned films, has comfortably outpaced all of them. It has, in fact, more than doubled all of their totals. A great performance from a very well-reviewed film, considering Sector 7's calamitous flop, clearly Korean moviegoers are a discerning audience!

As for foreign releases, Real Steel, The Three Musketeers, and The Debt opened with 73,738, 41,083, and 31,606, respectively. Poor openings across the board as foreign films in recent months have failed to gain a foothold in Korea.

Looking ahead, there are a number of important local release during the rest of October. With the Busan International Film Fest in full swing, films like Always (which opened the event) and Punch are likely to gain extra exposure after their screenings. K-Pop film Mr. Idol will open at the end of the month and I am very curious to see how it performs, the hallyu element could be a significant draw but it may also bomb, we shall see.

The Korean Box Office Update is a weekly feature which provides detailed analysis of film box office sales over the Friday to Sunday period in Korea. It appears every Monday morning (GMT+1) on Modern Korean Cinema. For other weekly features, take a look at Korean Cinema News and the Weekly Review Round-upReviews and features on Korean film also appear regularly on the site. 

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