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Monday, March 25, 2013

Korean Box Office: Strong Start for Very Ordinary Couple (03/22-03/24, 2013)

Strong Start for Very Ordinary Couple

March is generally not a busy period for movies and South Korea is no exception. After a rocket-fueled start which saw records fall as local films dominated (Miracle in Cell No.7, The Berlin File, New World, etc.) and almost completely shut out Hollywood, things have settled down considerably as the industry lies in wait for what is likely to be a gargantuan summer season. That said, at 1.69 million admissions, business was up slightly and the market share occupied by domestic films was still very strong at 67%. 

TitleRelease DateMarket ShareWeekendTotalScreens
1Very Ordinary Couple13/03/2131.90%538,875644,564563
2My Paparotti13/03/1417.90%329,615971,252428
3Warm Bodies (us)13/03/1414.50%262,127924,936359
4New World13/02/2112.00%202,7084,314,742353
5Django Unchained (us)13/03/216.90%119,743143,998340
6Miracle in Cell No.713/01/235.10%93,58712,653,337231
7Anna Karenina (us)13/03/212.70%48,73961,697246
8One Piece Film Z (jp)13/03/212.40%47,26151,510265
9The Dolphin: Story of Dreamer (pe/ge/it)13/03/211.20%23,96325,280197
10Lincoln (us)13/03/141.20%21,624119,328117

Leading the fray this week was Very Ordinary Couple, a new local romcom from Lotte Entertainment. It recaptured first place for domestic films after Warm Bodies ended an 11-week streak of local dominance last week. The film, starring popular young stars Kim Min-hee (Actresses, Helpless) and Lee Min-ki (Quick, Spellbound) took in an encouraging 538,875 in its first weekend. With strong word of mouth and reviews it should do well in the coming weeks.

Staying flat at number two was the sophomore My Paparotti, an against-the-odds dramedy from Showbox starring Han Suk-kyu (hot off The Berlin File) and up-and-coming star Lee Je-hoon (The Front Line, Architecture 101). It was off only 10% for 329,615 after a dubious start. Word of mouth seems to be kicking and may save what was looking to be a poor performance.

Dropping to number three was Warm Bodies, which saw its take dwindle by 40%: a good hold for this kind of film. It brought in another 262,127 admissions and will cross the one million mark today.

The hit gangster film New World, starring Lee Jeong-jae (The Thieves), Choi Min-sik (Oldboy) and Hwang Jeong-min (The Unjust and next month's Fists of Legend) was also down just under 40% for 202,708. Now in its fifth week, the gritty ensemble thriller has ably crossed the four million mark to become one of the year's biggest hits.

Slotting in at number five was the debut of Tarantino's Django Unchained which took in only 119,743. Foreign fare has had trouble cracking the market recently and Tarantino's film (as a western) was of little interest for local viewers in a busy marketplace.

Just outside of the top 10, O Muel's festival hit Jiseul, which has won awards at Busan and Sundance, managed to slot into eleventh place with 14,436, a very impressive number for a limited release. This was its first 'wide' weekend (it previously was only playing on Jeju Island) and it has already accrued 33,395 to date.

Crossover films have not fared so well recently as Kim Jee-woon's The Last Stand, Park Chan-wook's Stoker and CZ12: Chinese Zodiac (starring Kwon Sang-woo) have all fared poorly in the last few weeks. G.I. Joe 2: Retaliation should do a little better as an action film designed with foreign audiences in mind, but particularly for Lee Byung-hun's (A Bittersweet Life, I Saw the Devil) presence. If any local star can break out, its him, especially after last fall's smash hit Masquerade.


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 night (Korean Standard Time) on Modern Korean Cinema. For other weekly features, take a look at Korean Cinema News and the Weekly Korean ReviewsReviews and features on Korean film also appear regularly on the site. 

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