Monday, December 25, 2006

Korea Weekend Box Office - Christmas Edition
Dec. 21-24

The Ben Stiller comedy NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM was the big winner last weekend in Korea, selling 969,650 tickets (going from its Wednesday evening opening). Impressively, it sold more tickets every day, from opening night to Sunday.
Wednesday - 48,500
Thursday - 86,510
Friday - 129,500
Saturday - 315,180
Sunday - 389,940
This week's box office chart includes Christmas Day, Monday, so that extra holiday pushed MUSEUM over 1.3 million.

I must admit, I am rather surprised by MUSEUM having such a strong opening. Ben Stiller holds no particular fascination with the general public in Korea (that I am aware of). And it was up against some pretty stiff competition. It opened on a healthy 357 screens, but the Korean martial arts/fantasy THE RESTLESS opened on far more (around 430), and 200 POUND BEAUTY on 444.

In many ways, though, 200 POUND BEAUTY is the bigger winner. In its second weekend in release, its attendance actually went up, which does not happen very often. It should cruise past the 3-million attendance level some time this week. Will it take on "must see" status and become something bigger, like a 5- or 6-million attendance film? Or will competition overtake it in a week or two and put an early end to its success? Of course I do not know, but I am leaning toward the latter.

THE RESTLESS came in No. 3, which is probably disappointing to its producers/distributors at Nabi Pictures and CJ Entertainment. It did top 1 million ticket sales, which is always a good thing. But it needed an extra day to do so, and word of mouth and reviews have not been kind. Expect a pretty big dropoff in the next week. For a movie that cost 10.4 billion won ($11.2 million), not to mention a pretty huge marketing budget, a $6.8 million opening weekend means that at Christmas once again CJE has coal in its stockings (following TYPHOON last year and RIKIDOZAN the year before).

I was also somewhat surprised at CASINO ROYALE opening in fourth. I suppose $3.8 million is not birdseed, but I thought it was the best James Bond film I have seen (and I usually do not like Bond). The last James Bond film, DIE ANOTHER DAY, despite all the whining in the media about how Koreans were offended by its depiction of Korea, opened to 426,200 admissions (about $2.8 million), on about half the screens that CASINO had. And do not forget that DIE was going up against the insane competition of HARRY POTTER and LORD OF THE RINGS.

Very happy to see THE SCIENCE OF SLEEP doing well on its small number of screens. I tried seeing it Christmas Day, but it was so sold out at both downtown theaters I went to. So I saw it yesterday instead and quite liked it. Very inventive and fun, for a film about mental illness (call it the anti-CYBORG).

NOTE: This week's numbers include the Monday holiday.

This WeekTitle........................................Release DateScreens NationwideWeekend Attendance (Seoul only)Total Attendance
1.Night at the Museum12.21357301,2001,355,100
2.200-Pound Beauty12.14444268,1002,553,100
3.The Restless12.21430205,0001,003,000
4.The Holiday12.14223140,000940,000
4. (tie)Casino Royale12.21344140,000573,100
6.Happy Feet12.21178116,300364,600
7.Old Miss Diary12.2118963,800308,900
8.Nativity Story12.2114415,70054,000
9.The Science of Sleep12.2169,50012,000
10.Seducing Mr. Perfect12.07552,700719,000

(Source: Film2.0)

Coming out tomorrow is MY WIFE IS A GANGSTER 3, which should be pretty massive.

And good news (via, Lee Sung-gang's latest animated film YEUWOOBI THE FIVE-TAILED FOX is finally getting a release, on Jan. 25. You can see a trailer here.

The 1,000-year-old fox who becomes a woman is one of my favorite folkstories (Neil Gaiman did a riff on that for a very good SANDMAN short story once). Of course, Lee's version is more aimed at kids than some versions of the story, and as some have pointed out on the Internet, Lee does seem to be channeling Hayao Miyazaki more than in his earlier animation. Nonetheless, I think this could be a really good film, and I am looking forward to seeing it.

I quite like Lee's first film, MY BEAUTIFUL GIRL MARI, and his artwork can be seen at the top of my blog (that's his art at the top, above the title. Hopefully this film might be the one to break the long string of commercial failures for homegrown animated movies in Korea.


Jon Allen said...

Looks like you are not alone in thinking the Bond movie is the best one ever.

Casino Royale has become the most successful James Bond film at the box office, generating $454m (£232m) in cinemas worldwide so far.

I'm looking forward to seeing it soon.

Lee said...

So where does one find smaller box office films like "Science of Sleep" here in Korea? I've only been here for a month and know of no resources for seeing movies in Korea yet. Is there a website in English that lists these things? Or do you just need to know what theaters would play a certain kind of film?

(I'm in Busan, BTW)

*Also: reading your blog has made me interested to see more movies that have been made here. However, I don't understand Any Korean yet. What are my options?

Thanks in advance if you can take the time to respond.

Mark Russell said...

Lee -- Sorry, but I am not familiar with where the arthouse theaters are in Busan. Pusan Web has some theater information, but not much about the movies that are actually playing. Everything else seems to be in Korean.

If you want to see Korean movies, you best bet is probably DVD. Almost all Korean movies have English subtitles on DVD. Or, of course, wait for the Pusan International Film Festival in October.

FYI, "Science of Sleep" seems to be playing in Busan at the Haeundae Megabox. But the movie is in English and French (and a little Spanish, although not so much). Only Korean subtitles, no English subs.