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Sunday, February 19, 2012

Korean Box Office Update (02/17-02/19, 2012)

Howling Takes a Bite Out of the Box Office

Title Release Date Market Share Weekend Total Screens
1 Howling 2/16/12 26.60% 530,291 637,885 549
2 Nameless Gangster 2/2/12 26.60% 498,920 3,394,229 552
3 Dancing Queen 1/18/12 8.90% 178,364 3,555,301 337
4 Legends of Valhalla: Thor (is) 2/9/12 7.70% 154,176 410,062 333
5 The Grey (us) 2/16/12 7.80% 152,028 184,488 300
6 Unbowed 1/18/12 4.90% 96,598 3,321,467 295
7 Tarbosaurus 3D 1/26/12 4.50% 71,608 892,711 197
8 Woman in Black (us) 2/16/12 3.50% 65,640 78,762 268
9 Ghost Rider 3D (us) 2/16/12 2.70% 53,741 70,433 236
10 Papa 2/1/12 1.10% 24,341 558,246 115

Business stayed very strong this weekend as yet another big Korean release took the top spot though it was a close finish for first place.  Two million tickets were sold over the frame and the overall market share for Korean films hit 70%, preserving a remarkable streak of recent domestic advantage.

Howling won the weekend as many expected it would but by a slimmer margin than expected.  It's 530,291 opening was good but not remarkable.  Though given the recent performances of films like Nameless Gangster and Unbowed, both of which strike similar demographics, perhaps this should come as no surprise.  However, reviews have been strong so word of mouth may see Howling increase in its sophomore frame.

In its third weekend, Nameless Gangster came a close second with 498,920 admissions.  Direct competition from Howling did lead to a 40% drop in business but it is still pulling in big numbers.  Currently it is well over the three million admissions mark and will be knocking on the door of four million soon.  It remains to be seen whether it can vie for five as well.

Dancing Queen also lost some steam in its fifth weekend as it wound up with 178,364.  The Uhm Jeong-hwa and Hwang Jeong-min comedy is now over the 3.5 million mark and will attempt to cross four but this will not be an easy task.  Regardless, the film has already been an enormous hit.

After its surprisingly good opening last weekend, Icelandic animated film Legends of Valhalla: Thor remained almost steady as it collected an additional 154,176 sales.  The picture will easily cross half a million and could go further still.  A good performance in any case but given the glut of children's films lately, it's interesting that this one came seemingly out of nowhere to outperform most of them.

Liam Neeson actioneer The Grey had a midlevel opening with 152,028.  Hollywood is having a tough go as local competition targeting the same audiences have overwhelmed it.

Unbowed slipped three spots to number 6 and shed over 60% of its business in the process for a 96,598 weekend.  The Ahn Sung-ki surprise hit has had a fantastic run and its total will soon cross the 3.5 million mark.  From here on out it will begin to shed theaters quickly as exhibitors look to clear away space for new films.

Tarbosaurus 3D is inching closer to the one million mark (it would only be the second animation to cross it after last year's hit Leafie, A Hen Into the Wild) as it garnered some 71,608 viewers over the frame.  It is still proving to be a very interesting time for Korean animation.

Two new US openers filled out slots 8 and 9, and both wer unable to entice audiences.  Woman in Black started its run with a tepid 65,640 while Nic Cage superhero sequel Ghost Rider 3D was D.O.A. with 53,741.

Rounding out the chart was Papa, which added another 24,341 in its third weekend.  The picture has crossed half a million but is a long way from being considered successful.

The only major release opening next weekend is Hollywood's Underworld 4 but the battle for first place will likely be waged between Howling and Nameless Gangster.


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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  1. Good Stuff! Any idea on when Howling might make it's North American Debut? I'm in Philly and would love to see it with English subs.

  2. No word yet but if successful will likely get booked in CGV Los Angeles and may play a few more cities after that. Philly will be a stretch though unless it gets a big push. May have to wait for a festival screening or an eventual DVD.