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Monday, December 26, 2011

Korean Box Office Update (12/23-12/25, 2011)

Tom Cruise's MI4 Scales Over My Way for Surprise Top Spot




Title Release Date Weekend Total
1 Mission: Impossible 4 (us) 12/15/11 1,230,676 3,677,069
2 My Way 12/21/11 770,220 1,001,676
3 Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (us) 12/21/11 517,421 659,039
4 Perfect Game 12/21/11 340,574 473,088
5 Spellbound 12/1/11 184,145 2,536,632
6 Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chip-Wrecked (us) 12/15/11 162,953 383,500
7 Pocket Monsters Best Wishes! Reshiram (jp) 12/22/11 130,231 142,727
8 Pocket Monsters Best Wishes! Zekrom (jp) 12/22/11 113,229 124,173
9 The Adventures of Tintin (us) 12/7/11 39,870 773,043
10 Arthur Christmas (us) 11/25/11 31,682 614,441
- Punch 10/20/11 856 5,315,682
- My Barefoot Friend 12/15/11 437 1,653
- SIU 11/24/11 271 1,118,060
- Life Is Peachy 12/8/11 223 2,887
- Dancing Cat 11/17/11 191 11,849
- The Forgotten Bag 11/17/11 147 6,323
- Too Many Villains 12/15/11 123 760


As expected, it was a huge weekend at the Korean box office this Christmas but the victor was a surprise.  After months of extraordinary performances from domestic films, the results for this frame are an unfortunate way to wrap up the year.  In total, admissions hit 3.56 million, a 10% gain over last year, one of the busiest weekends in Korean cinema history but sadly Korean films held only three of the top 10 spots and accounted for a below average 36.5% market share versus last year's 56.7%.

Korean audiences seemed starved for either blockbuster fare or children's movies over this past holiday weekend.  The bottom five of the top 10 were all movies aimed at children, including two Japanese animes.  I've been noticing the relatively poor performance of these kids' films over the past few weeks but now that I see the market share their combined efforts occupy I wonder whether foreign distributors were just a little careless in looking at the release calendar for Korea, ultimately too many films with a specific audience battled it out for a piece of the same pie.

However I have been thinking about the potential future of children's movies at the Korean box office.  Typically the country does not produce many of its own but that seems to be changing as audiences are becoming more receptive to the emerging talents of Korean-produced fare for children, especially in animation.  Kung Fu Panda 2 was directed by a Korean-American and this helped it sell over five million tickets.  A little later in the summer Leafie, A Hen Into the Wild became by far the most successful Korean animation ever made as it soared past the two million mark.  Perhaps next winter there will be some domestic children's movies beside all of Hollywood's seasonal offerings.

After last week's huge opening, Mission Impossible IV has actually increased 20% to 1,230,676.  The film has accumulated nearly four million admissions already and has done so against considerable competition.  Tom Cruise and company will likely end up very high on the yearly chart but how far will they go?

Kang Je-gyu's My Way, the highest budgeted Korean film of all time ($30 million) and probably the year's most anticipated film, had a sizable but very underwhelming debut as it took only 770,220, though it has sold just over a million tickets since opening.  Perhaps business will pick up in the coming weeks but this is an alarming start to the blockbuster war film's theater run.  Word of mouth has been mixed so far but awareness is huge for the pic.

The sequel to Sherlock Holmes had a solid debut with 517,42, slightly below the original's bow in 2009.  The Perfect Game had a decent 340,574 weekend but I expected a bit more after the strong previews.  However, there is some positive buzz surrounding the film so business could pick up, though it is a busy marketplace.  Spellbound dropped three spots but held onto to 60% of its business for a 184,145 weekend and with over 2.5 million admissions through this point, the three million mark is not out of the question.

As already mentioned the bottom five in the chart were all children's films:  Alvin and the Chipmunks (162,953); Pocket Monsters Best Wishes! Reshiram (130,231); Pocket Monsters Best Wishes! Zekrom (113,229); The Adventures of Tintin (39,870); and Arthur Christmas (31,682).

Outside the Top 10:  Punch shed most of its theaters and sold 856 tickets; My Barefoot Friend added 437 admission in its second week; SIU also lost the majority of its theaters and wound up with 271; Life Is Peachy dropped to 223; Dancing Cat added 191 to its impressive limited run; The Forgotten Bag sold 147 this week; and Too Many Villains, a film I'm tremendously excited to see, sadly sold a paltry 123 tickets in its second weekend, with only 760 in total.

Next Week:  All eyes will be on MI4 and My Way as we see how they perform in their third and second weeks respectively.


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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