Sunday, March 18, 2012

Korean Box Office Update (03/16-03/18, 2012)

Helpless Repeats at the Expense of Russian Coffee

Title Release Date Market Share Weekend Total Screens
1 Helpless 3/8/12 36.20% 561,323 1,567,211 521
2 Chronicle (us) 3/15/12 13.10% 205,425 241,290 324
3 John Carter (us) 3/8/12 12.50% 179,449 679,630 355
4 Russian Coffee 3/15/12 8.70% 139,594 170,103 339
5 The Vow (us) 3/14/12 7.10% 110,159 165,079 314
6 Love Fiction 2/29/12 5.80% 89,658 1,653,853 309
7 This Means War (us) 2/29/12 5.30% 81,900 730,029 231
8 Introduction to Architecture 3/22/12 4.30% 64,960 80,900 282
9 Nameless Gangster 2/2/12 2.30% 35,814 4,646,361 210
10 Seeking Justice (us) 3/15/12 1.60% 24,397 29,294 142

While Korea's new release was pretty much dead on arrival, domestic films continued to exert their dominance as the market held at a strong 60% of the weekend's 1.55 million admissions.  This compared very favorably with last year's 16% figure and 1.23 million total.  While the local film industry has been doing well and has put out a number of high profile and quality products, it must be noted that competition from abroad has been weak as no recent Hollywood films were really expected to clinch the top spot.

Top of the pile is the sophomore stint of Helpless which raged on with another 561,323 admissions, a huge weekend that was off a minuscule 7%.  Clearly word of mouth has caught on for this thriller and it may be another early hit for 2012.  It will cross two million admissions before long and unless it suffers a big drop, three million should come along soon after.

The top US offering for the week was Chronicle which pulled in a respectable 205,425.  In its second weekend John Carter dropped a little over 50% for 179,449.  It has a good shot at crossing one million now which, while not a particularly impressive figure for such a huge production, will be seen as a decent result after its calamitous failure in its domestic market.

The expensive period action drama Russian Coffee, starring Joo Jin-mo, Kim Yo-seon and Park Hee-soon was a no-go as it opened in fourth place with a meagre 139,594.  The continued success of Helpless most likely contributed to its disappointing performance but more than that the film presented an awkward image in its marketing and couldn't hope to match the diverse and popular local offerings of the past two months.  I don't expect things to get any better for the film further down the line and it may vanish altogether within a fortnight.

Hollywood romance The Vow, starring Channing Tatum and Rachel McAdams opened with 110,159.  An okay start for a film that has limited appeal in Korea but this performance pales in comparison to the US where it became a big hit.

Love Fiction dropped three spots and lost almost two thirds of its business as it sold another 89,658 tickets.  Last week I said it wouldn't have much trouble crossing two million admissions but now I'm not so sure as it looks to be fading fast.

US action romcom This Means War slowed about 45% for 81,900 in its third weekend.  Though it will likely fall short, it does stand a chance of crossing the one million threshold.

Korean romance Introduction to Architecture played in previews ahead of its opening next Thursday.  It scored a strong 64,960 and considering its positive early notices it could be in for a healthy run.

Nameless Gangster slipped 60% to 35,814 and will likely fall out the top 10 altogether next week.  It won't hit five million but with 4.6 million and counting, it is already by far and away the year's biggest hit.

Rounding out the chart was the new Nicholas Cage revenge pic Seeking Justice as it sold a paltry 24,397 tickets in its opening weekend.  I imagine that this will be the last time we hear about it.

Introduction to Architecture goes wide next weekend and should do strong business but I wouldn't be surprised if it can't muster enough to stand up to Helpless.  Mark Whalberg action-thriller Contraband will also be opening but will likely be playing third fiddle to the aforementioned Korean duo.


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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