Monday, January 08, 2007

Korea Weekend Box Office - Jan. 5-7

UPDATE: More analysis and a link added in the text

There was a real photo-finish this week for the top spot, but by a hair, 200 POUND BEAUTY finished back on top, just edging out NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM by 1,000 tickets. It was the fourth weekend out for BEAUTY, and the third for MUSEUM, surprisingly strong runs considering how strong the competition was. Or how strong the competition appeared, anyhow. Each year, heading into the holiday season, it looks like there will be a mad crush of films trodding all over each other, but each year one or two films rise above the fray, letting the other sink in the muck.

Even MY WIFE IS A GANGSTER 3 hung on to its No. 3 spot from last week, proving the comedy to be a medium hit with some legs.

No real surprise on Im Sang-soo's THE OLD GARDEN, which opened in fifth. Well, I am a little surprised that Lotte Entertainment put the movie on 212 screens: that is one dull movie.

Really bad news for Go So-young, whose new film PROJECT MAKEOVER opened way down in eighth place. Eighth, despite opening on 304 screens. Her last film, the horror movie APT, did pretty poorly, too. Hopefully this will inspire Go and her management team to take radical measures before choosing her next film role... like, maybe finding a movie that is not terrible. Too outlandish a suggestion? Right, she will probably just star in a TV drama instead.

THE RESTLESS is still in the top-10, but barely. Seems like a good time to point out a Korea Herald story about this season's flops. (Like most Korea Herald stories, the link will only work for a week. After that, you'll have to pay for it, or else do a Google search and click the cached version). THE RESTLESS was certainly a Christmas turkey, along with I'M A CYBORG, BUT THAT'S OKAY, SEDUCING MR. PERFECT and ONCE IN A SUMMER. But like a lot of stories about blockbusters and bombs and things, the writer does not really talk about movie quality. Sure those films did not do well at the box office. But none of them were very good (actually, I am guessing at ONCE IN A SUMMER, but I feel safe in that guess). And judging by their opening weekends' box office, none did a good job of convincing audiences that they might be good.

The headline says it all: "Blockbusters flop as star marketing fails". I would argue that star marketing almost never works. The right actor can make a good film better, but they can barely ever stop a film from tanking. Korean audiences, in my humble opinion, have become pretty good at smelling crap coming from quite a ways away, and it has become increasingly difficult to fool them with marketing campaigns.

Look at the top films of 2006: THE HOST, THE KING AND THE CLOWN and TAZZA. What do each of those films have in common? All three are completely unlike each other, and very unlike any other films released over the past year. You can make market a so-so film into a middling hit, but "a big hit is always a surprise" (as a local producer likes to say). Television relies on familiarity. Movies require mystery -- they need surprise and a sense of expectations. At 7-8,000 won per ticket, the well runs dry a lot faster in the cinema than it does for free at home.

Good news from THE SCIENCE OF SLEEP, even though it is no longer on the top-10. The Michel Gondry movie topped 30,000 admissions last week... not bad for a little film on just six screens.

This WeekTitle........................................Release DateScreens NationwideWeekend Attendance (Seoul only)Total Attendance
1.200-Pound Beauty12.14354147,5004,568,500
2.Night at the Museum12.21341146,5003,711,000
3.My Wife Is a Gangster 312.2834068,1001,408,100
4.Open Season1.0418838,900166,700
5.The Old Garden1.0421233,200150,300
6.Old Miss Diary12.2113931,600773,600
7.The Holiday12.148231,0001,264,000
8.Project Makeover1.0430430,800138,000
9.Casino Royale12.2117625,6001,076,400
10.The Restless12.2121115,0001,509,000

(Source: Film2.0)

FYI, if you are in Korea and waiting to see some Clint Eastwood, you will not have to wait much longer. FLAG OF OUR FATHERS has finally gotten a release date: Feb. 15. No date chosen yet for LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA. Hopefully a couple of Academy Award nominations will inspire Warner to get it into the theaters.

Oh, and the latest Frank Miller comic book to become a movie, 300, has a release date, too. March 15. Mark your calendars, because that looks like it should be a pretty crazy film.

(Note: I am not promising a good movie. Just a crazy one. See the trailer to see what I mean. Or check out the comic book. Or some sample art from the comic. Here for more.)

No comments: