Monday, June 10, 2013

Korean Box Office: Secretly Greatly Not-so-Secret in Great Debut (06/07-06/09, 2013)

The fortunes of the Korean film industry took a dramatic turn this weekend following the release of a major local film which set a slew of new records. Business was booming with almost 3 million admissions recorded over the frame, a significant jump over last year's 2.2 million and almost twice as much as last week. However, the better news was that the local market share lept to 77% (compared with 54% in 2012), following a spell when the domestic industry was having difficulty competing with Hollywood.

TitleRelease DateMarket ShareWeekendTotalScreens
1Secretly Greatly13/06/0568.90%2,064,5863,491,5071341
2Star Trek: Into Darkness (us)13/05/3011.30%284,1351,261,090412
3Horror Stories 213/06/055.60%172,776347,311337
4Furious 6 (us)13/05/223.40%97,7071,708,497291
5The Croods (us)13/05/162.60%82,563819,621272
6Olympus Has Fallen (us)13/06/052.10%60,573113,476283
8After Earth (us)13/05/301.20%37,122524,612270
9The Great Gatsby (us)13/05/161.00%28,7581,391,906132
10Nazuma Eleven GO (jp)13/06/050.50%16,26730,21099

Commanding almost 70% of the weekend's business was Secretly Greatly, which has been smashing records since its debut on Wednesday. It has now set new benchmarks for opening day, single day and opening weekend for Korean films, as well fastest to one million overall. For the fastest to two and three million records it has tied with Transformers 3 though one could argue that it reached those milestones in fewer hours. For more details on the records it broke last week, take a look at this previous analysis over on Twitch.

With approximately 3.5 million admissions in five days, the question now becomes: how far can Secretly Greatly go? Though burdened with a negative critical reaction, I don't think the film's core young female audience will be dissuaded from seeing the tantalizing grouping of three of their favorite idols (Kim Soo-yun, Park Ki-woong and Lee Hyun-woo) on screen. That said, with school wrapping up, the event status afforded by its stars, and the quick consumption speed of its youth audience as they move from one thing to the next, I can't imagine this film will have great legs. It's not a four-quadrant film like The Thieves or Miracle in Cell No. 7. I think it will finish over A Werewolf Boy's ~7 million total (a film with a similar demographic) but fall short of ten million. Of course, if this inspires heavy repeat viewings, I could easily be proven wrong.

Also opening this weekend was the omnibus Horror Stories 2, following the original's bow last July. Debuting at number three with 172,776, it fared much better than its predecessor's 92k. With almost 350,000 admissions already banked, it's performing well for an omnibus but still below standard K-horror features such as last year's Don't Click (295k) and Two Moons (205k), though not by much.

Quickly running through the rest of the field, at number two, Star Trek: Into Darkness dropped 43% for 284,135 after a so-so opening, demonstrating the brand's weak status in Korea, despite strong reviews. Furious 6 suffered a 70% dive for 97,707 and number four on the chart, beating previous installments, though barely. Rounding out the top five was US animation The Croods which rose one spot after faling only 16% for 82,563. It will almost certainly cross one million now.

The only major release this week will be the superman reboot Man of Steel. The previous attempt at jump-starting the franchise, Superman Returns, clinched 600k in its debut and finished under two million. I think this will do better but it is still unlikely to steal Secretly Greatly's assured second top spot finish.


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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