Monday, August 19, 2013

Korean Box Office: Hide and Seek is Lord of the Korean Thrillers

August continued to be redhot at the Korean box office as no less than four Korean thrillers duked it out for the top spot. In the end it wasn't as close a race as it seemed it was going to be but, nevertheless, a stunning 3.96 million tickets were sold over the frame, light years ahead of last year's 3.12 million. The story was even more impressive for local films as the four local thrillers that held court at the top of the chart combined for a commanding 89%, compared with 68% last year.

TitleRelease DateMarket ShareWeekendTotalScreens
1Hide and Seek13/08/1434.20%1,353,1852,126,186779
2The Flu13/08/1424.50%970,2291,854,655806
4The Terror Live13/07/3112.40%479,7555,028,928495
5Epic (us)13/08/074.40%175,514804,276344
6Turbo (us)13/07/251.90%79,6211,865,356226
7The Smurfs 2 (us)13/08/011.40%62,699870,726202
8Detective Conan: Strategy Above the Depth (jp)13/08/071.40%60,658359,695207
9Wings (ru)13/08/140.30%15,39232,473127
10The Garden of Words (jp)13/08/140.40%13,83426,55961

Despite far less marketing and no stars, the dark thriller Hide and Seek overperformed to record a surprise number one finish with a remarkable 1,353,185 admissions. Including Wednesday and Thursday's national holiday, the film has already banked over 2.1 million viewers. This is yet another success for NEW, a studio (without an exhibition arm like CJ and Lotte) that has risen to the very top in the last year. Hide and Seek follows NEW's other 2013 hits such as Miracle in Cell No. 7, New World, Montage and Cold Eyes.

Coming it at number two was CJ's epidemic thriller The Flu, with 970,229 viewers. While a strong figure in a busy marketplace, its daily breakdown was less impressive. It was ahead of Hide and Seek on opening day and now trails far behind it. Reactions haven't been ecstatic and the film may suffer a steep drop next weekend.

Snowpiercer was finally removed from the top of the chart as it fell a hefty 57% in the face of two significant new competitors. Nevertheless, it recorded another 695,985 admissions as it crossed the eight million admissions mark. Bong Joon-ho's sci-fi blockbuster is sure to cross nine million but the vaunted ten million looks far less certain now.

The Terror Live suffered a similar fate as it tumbled 56% for 479,755. It crossed five million on Sunday and still has a good chance of finding its way to a total over six million.

Rounding out the top five was the US animation Epic which had a larger than usual 40% slide for children's fare as it added 175,514 tickets to its haul, which is quietly approaching the one million mark.

A number of films are opening next weekend but the only ones that may make any sort of impression seem to be Hollywood's Now You See Me and Wong Kar-wai's The Grandmaster. With no strong competition, Hide and Seek looks set to repeat up top while the three other local thrillers that trail it should still post big numbers in the last full weekend of August.


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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