Monday, October 02, 2006

Korean Weekend Box Office - Sept. 29-Oct. 1

We are still a few days away from the Chuseok holiday, but all the big films were already released on Thursday, so the weekend box office gives us a good insight on what the big holiday films are going to be. And the winner is -- WAR OF FLOWERS. Resoundingly, so.

Congratulations to Choi Dong-hoon, whose popular appeal has finally matched his critical appeal. His last film, THE BIG SWINDLE, never caught on with the public, but this time, I guess Choi done good. Something I had not considered until a friend pointed it out today was the comparison between Matt Damon's ROUNDERS and WAR OF FLOWERS. WoF is based on the Korean card game hwa-tu, which I never learned how to play, but is apparently full of bluffing and mind-games, much like poker. Rather than display my ignorance too brilliantly, I will refrain from more dubious analogies until I learn the game.

In other movie news, MARRYING THE MAFIA 3 and MAUNDY THURSDAY remained surprisingly strong, at No. 2 and No. 4 respectively. Lee Jun-ik's RADIO STAR had a fairly middling debut, and THE FOX FAMILY was downright poor. And the Chinese film THE BANQUET tumbled all the way down to No. 8.

This WeekTitle........................................Release DateScreens NationwideWeekend Attendance (Seoul only)Total Attendance
1.War of Flowers9.27513267,2001,169,400
2.Marrying the Mafia 3: Gamun-ui Buhwal9.2142092,7001,923,400
3.Radio Star9.2732070,300210,400
4.Maundy Thursday9.1425070,2002,441,900
5.The Fox Family9.2720228,600101,300
6.Jal Salabose9.2725620,400105,900
8.The Banquet9.2110012,000223,600
(source: Film 2.0)

Some random thoughts...
- The number of screens listed this week was way up, 2,235 all told. Last week we had 1,924. In fact, there are around 1,700 screens in Korea. What gives? I assume that, due to the huge competition for screens, that a lot of films doubled-up, showing two movies on one screen, just at different times.
- Attendance appears to be up nicely, considering the holidays have not officially started yet. This week, 580,000 tickets were sold in Seoul, up from 502,500 last weekend. Not bad, but hardly overwhelming -- 640,000 tickets were sold the week HANBANDO was released around July 14, and a massive 780,000 tickets sold for THE HOST's debut at the end of July. Attendance will have to pick up massively to reach the 10-12 million ticket estimates that some thought would be sold over the 10-day holiday period this year.
- Once again, Korea's lack of diversity is showing, with not enough films in the theaters to make a top-10. Only eight significant releases (although I'm sure Sponge House, Dongsoong and the Seoul Art Cinema had alternative titles that did not make the chart).

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