Monday, January 30, 2012

Korean Box Office Update (01/27-01/29, 2012)

Unbowed Shoots to the Top During Big Weekend for Korean Film 

Title Release Date Market Share Weekend Total Screens
1 Unbowed 1/18/12 28.0 % 717,580 1,874,338 528
2 Dancing Queen 1/18/12 23.0 % 598,192 2,100,968 543
3 Tarbosaurus 1/26/12 15.6 % 330,411 366,523 454
4 Puss in Boots (us) 1/11/12 10.7 % 260,898 1,852,530 375
5 Journey 2: The Mysterious Island (us) 1/19/12 9.2 % 216,196 1,029,499 369
6 Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol (us) 12/15/11 3.7 % 92,673 7,490,425 259
7 Pacemaker 1/18/12 2.3 % 60,634 429,413 309
8 We Bought a Zoo (us) 1/18/12 1.8 % 47,485 252,149 197
9 Never Ending Story 1/18/12 1.2 % 30,886 264,891 229
10 The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (us) 1/11/12 1.2 % 27,326 422,390 109

Local business finally found itself back in the driver's seat this past weekend as its market share soared to 71%.  That on top of the fact that total admissions were 2.56 million, 30% higher than last year's comparable weekend, and suddenly things are starting to look a lot rosier for Korean films in early 2012.

After a very strong start, Unbowed has taken over first place by jumping nearly 100% to 716,945.  Though it is not the only Lunar New Year's release on the path to success, it looks like the first major hit of the year.  It looks to continue the trend of strong small releases outperforming expectations that we saw so much of last year.

Meanwhile, Dancing Queen built on its successful opening by rising slightly to 597,666 and has now crossed the 2 million mark.  Competition from Unbowed and next week's opener Nameless Gangster will be tough, but it's already a hit.

The highest opener this week was another local release, the animated dinosaur feature Tarbosaurus 3D which wound up with an decent 329,625.  Though this film has managed to generate some buzz and has been presold to a number of markets, this probably wasn't the best time to release it.  The market has been flooded with children's fare recently and after the holidays, it's hard to imagine that this will pick up steam in February.

Puss in Boots remained steady at number 4 with 260,898 and looks to cross the 2 million mark before the end of its run.  Journey 2: The Mysterious Island dropped three places to number 5 but was able to hang on to nearly two thirds of its business as it finished the weekend with 216,196.  Mission Impossible 4 fell one spot to number 6 with 92,673.  It has now crossed War of the Arrows to become the second highest grossing film of 2011 and its total, which is inches from 7.5 million may come excruciatingly close to Transformers 3's chart topping tally, which stands at 7,790,434.

The other two Korean Lunar New Year's releases did not fare so well.  Pacemaker has simply failed to impress as it has receded 50% after a lackluster opening, its most recent take was 60,634. The marketing team behind the film desperately tried to increase awareness in interest in the film last week with a number of promotional tactics but these seem to have fallen flat.

Meanwhile, The Neverending Story, which no one seems to be talking about, finished at number 9 with 30,886 after losing 65% of its business.  It has barely managed to scrabble together a quarter million admissions to date and looks likely to finish with less than 500,000.

We Bought a Zoo stayed at number 8 as it added 47,485 to its paltry total while The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo rounded out the top 10 with 27,326.

Next week sees the release of the much anticipated Nameless Gangster starring Choi Min-sik and Ha Jung-woo but I am starting to wonder if it may fall short of expectations.  It will be hard enough to unseat Unbowed, which has taken over the public consciousness, but I'm wondering wether the film itself will fail to live up to the hype.  Papa will also be opening and will likely do so in the top 5 while the major US release will be Happy Feet 2 but after so much kids fare of late, I think this may be one too many.


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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