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Sunday, January 22, 2012

Korean Box Office Update (01/20-01/22, 2012)

Dancing Queen Waltzes to First Place During Busy Lunar New Year Weekend

Title Release Date Market Share Weekend Total Screens
1 Dancing Queen 1/18/12 23.30% 508,463 632,457 520
2 Unbowed 1/18/12 17.60% 384,102 477,465 399
3 Journey 2: The Mysterious Island (us) 1/19/12 16.70% 327,053 373,288 392
4 Puss in Boots (us) 1/11/12 14.40% 287,000 1,199,347 450
5 Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (us) 12/15/11 7.20% 151,106 7,186,748 276
6 Pacemaker 1/18/12 5.70% 126,629 193,025 418
7 The Neverending Story 1/18/12 3.90% 88,741 139,138 267
8 We Bought a Zoo (us) 1/18/12 3.40% 77,834 106,745 236
9 The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (us) 1/11/12 2.30% 47,509 349,206 151
10 Love On-Air 1/5/12 1.40% 31,095 891,921 150

Business came back in a big way over the Lunar New Year weekend after a bit of a slump for local releases of late but besides the holiday bump how did the frame fare?   Despite a strong 1-2 finish from local films, the results were decidedly mixed.  The total amount of tickets sold came in at 2.18 million, up over 20% from last weekend, but down nearly 25% from last year's Lunar New Year, which fell on the first weekend of February.   The market share for local releases jumped up to 53% but with four big new films this should come as a bit of a disappointment, not to mention that the last Lunar New Year boasted a commanding 72%.

The number one movie over the holiday was the Uhm Jeong-hwa and Hwang Jeong-min film Dancing Queen which had a strong 508,463 debut amid the crowded field.  Reviews have been on the positive side but it remains to be seen how it performs in subsequent weekends.

Opening at number two was the Ahn Sung-ki starring Unbowed with 384,102.  The film opened in Busan and has received strong notices.   It's second place finish is very encouraging as it was not expected to place so high, also good news is that its total is less than 25,000 away from breakeven point already.  It will be interesting to see how this performs further down the line, specifically wether it could unseat Dancing Queen in its sophomore run.

Journey 2, a Dwayne Johnson kids vehicle from the US had a strong opening at number with a surprisingly healthy 327,053.   Holiday weekends are always a good time for family fare and in truth there wasn't much else to choose from so perhaps this should come as no surprise.

Puss in Boots, dropped three spots to number four but nevertheless managed to retain a healthy amount of its audience as it ended the weekend with 287,000 admissions which puts it comfortably over the one million mark.

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol saw its biggest drop to date as it garnered an additional 151,106 admissions but no one will be laughing as it easily leapt over the seven million mark, the fourth film of 2011 to do so.  I believe this makes last year the first to reach that milestone.

Pacemaker was the next new Korean release to open wide but with only 126,629 tickets sold it was quite disappointing.   Given its big marketing push and positive reviews a lot more was expected of it, of course it could grow over the coming weeks but I would be surprised if this were to be the case.

The last new Korean release was romcom The Neverending Story which came in at number 7 with 88,741.  Another lacklustre result, even if this film was not the most anticipated of the weekend's new offerings.   I expect this particular film to swiftly exits theaters.

We Bought a Zoo also opened this weekend but could only muster a paltry 77,834.  The Matt Damon family film has not impressed in any of its markets to date so this just adds to its disappointing result.   Meanwhile The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo crumbled, losing three quarters of its business and winding up with only 47,509, this after a mediocre start.

Rounding out the Top 10 was Love On-Air in its third week with 31,095 which was a calamitous 85% drop from last weekend.   Clearly it couldn't cope with the new competition.   It's total stands at 891,921 but it will now be no small task to push it past the one million milestone.

It's early days for 2012 as this is only the third weekend but it's safe to say that January has not been a good month for Korean films. Hopefully a portion of the quartet of new releases will remain strong presences in theaters over the coming weeks but we may have to wait until February when we see some big new releases, specifically the Choi Min-sik and Ha Jung-woo gangster film Nameless Gangster and the Ha Yu directed, Song Kang-ho starring thriller Howling both of which could prove substantial hits. Meanwhile, next wek sees the release of Tarbosaurus 3D, though I'm not sure wether or not it will be opening wide.


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 Sunday evening or 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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