NOTES ON ENTERTAINMENT, CULTURE AND MORE FROM KOREA (OR WHEREVER)

Monday, February 05, 2007

Korea Weekend Box Office - Feb. 2-4

The new Park Jin-pyo film, VOICE OF A MURDERER, came out strong in its opening weekend, despite some so-so reviews, pulling in an impressive 1.4 million admissions from its opening Wednesday evening to Sunday night. That works out to about $9.4 million, and a hair over 40% of the entire box office last weekend. Perhaps most significantly, the film picked up attendance and screens each day it was open, going from 275 screens on Jan. 31, to 397 screens on Feb. 1, to 530 screens on Saturday.

Way back in No. 2 was THE PERFECT COUPLE, with 59,100 admissions in Seoul, bringing its nationwide total to just over 1 million. Last week's top film CURSE OF THE GOLDEN FLOWER fell to third, with 57,200 admissions in Seoul. The Adam Sandler comedy CLICK opened in fourth, with 176,4000 in ticket sales nationwide. Not great, but about what you might expect for a second-rate foreign comedy.

200 POUND BEAUTY is still hanging around at No 5, bringing its two-month total to 6.4 million.

The two local animations YOBI: THE FIVE-TAILED FOX and ROBOT TAEKWON V are still chugging along in the bottom of the top-10, thanks to all the kids on break (and, more importantly, the parents who want them out of the house). If they can stay in the theaters until the Seollal holiday (Feb. 17-19), they might get a pretty good second wind.

Rounding out the top-10 is SCOOP, which pulled in just over 40,000 admissions on 100 screens.

Outside of the top-10, over in the art-house world, PARIS, JE T'AIME opened well, with 26,266 on just a few screens (cannot find the exact number). And SCIENCE OF SLEEP continues to do steady business on its last remaining screens, bringing its total to 48,051. Another week like last one, and it will top 50,000, which would be a nice symbolic number to surpass.

This WeekTitle........................................Release DateScreens NationwideWeekend Attendance (Seoul only)Total Attendance
1.Voice of a Murderer1.31530247,0001,408,000
2.The Perfect Couple1.2527959,1001,004,200
3.Curse of the Golden Flower1.2525557,200801,900
4.Click2.0115253,300176,400
5.Apocalypto1.3115745,100170,700
3.200-Pound Beauty12.1421040,5006,433,700
7.Miss Potter1.2515421,900293,600
8.Robot Taekwon V1.1816220,100616,100
9.Yobi: The Five-Tailed Fox1.2510520,000352,000
10.Scoop2.0110017,10040,100

(Source: Film2.0)

Oh, by the way, Film 2.0 is my source for the top-10. But for other chart information, I go to KOFIC's database website KOBIS. It is a pretty useful site for box office information, but you need to be able to read Korean to use it. It does not report all the theaters in Korea, just the ones that have installed its electronic tracking service, but that number continues to climb, and is now at 91% of Korea's screens.

And in a totally different vein... A great video of the Charlie Rose Show, with him talking to Alfonso Cuaron, Guillermo del Toro and Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu is here on Google Video. So interesting to hear from the three of them all together. And such a great comparison for Korea. Here are three directors making great films that matter to them, that make some decent money and that are getting recognized in international circles. As much as I admire so many Korean directors, this is a useful way of seeing how much more they still need to learn and improve. As William Blundell once wrote: "There are two kinds of writers in the world: bad writers and improving writers."

I also find it interesting how much emphasis they put on leaving their home country and becoming part of the wider world. So many Korean journalists like to talk about the Korean Wave, how Korean culture is doing around the world. But it is so much more important to get feedback/inspiration from as many sources as possible. Look at how many directors got their start outside of Korea (Hong Sang-soo in the United States, Song Il-gon in Poland, Kim Ki-duk in France). But how many directors, since completing their studies, are continuing to spend their time in the world? (And I don't mean spending a week at a film festival).

3 comments:

edmame said...

i really enjoyed cuaron & del toro's latest, and will click on your google link shortly. there have many directors gaining depth and inspiration from going international in the past: bunuel, renoir, and all those euro expats going back and forth between america and home countries between WW2 & mccarthyite era. there have been less examples from asia proper obviously. i agree with your point to the extent that a variety of influences, collaborators, funding, audience are certainly healthy for creative work, but the spectrum of homogeneity and variety isn't so clean cut between strictly batting for either "global" or "local" filmmaking. e.g. a homogenous culture and filmmaking environment on the surface (since there are always all kinds of politics and dynamics beneath that) can breed "insider's insight" like ozu or routine brain-farts like wong jing. aiming at world market can make you a bloated eye-candy master of empty spectacle like latest chen kaige & zhang yimou, or mizoguchi adapting chinese icon princess yang kuei fei in hong kong. it's really a case-by-case scenario for each project, & for something like innaritu's latest it's hard to shake the feeling of button-pushing film equivalent of parachute journalism even if well-intended & technically skilled at showing only the extreme, peak experiences. i guess what i'm saying is 3 talented directors liberated their creativity a certain way, but it won't necessarily work the same way for other folks & projects.

Anonymous said...

Ah, your blog is a pleasure to read :). Thank you for keeping it up.

I agree with edmame that aiming at the world market can make you all frosting and no cake. I see that a lot in korean films these days (the most obvious one being The Restless-- its painfully obvious it's makers were eyeing the international market from the start). Maybe this is me being overly cyncial, but I feel like a lot of korean filmmakers these days aren't making films for the sake of telling good stories and fleshing out believable characters, but instead they're focusing overly much on money and gaining international acclaim. Or at the very least, creative story telling seems to come only after popularity and money, when it should be the other way around. As a result high-profile korean films these days usually look pretty but have nothing to back them up substance-wise, and they come out feeling way too self-conscious and forced. I think people need to understand that when you focus on developing really good stories and characters, then the fame and money is more likely to start coming in naturally... Ok, actually, its a little unfair for me to call out korean filmmakers on this, when I see a whole lot of U.S. filmakers doing it too. But I just get this general feeling when I watch a lot of high profile korean films. Rehashing plots that have been successful in the past... focusing on sets and costumes and stars and neglecting the storytelling and characters... it all smells like attempts to make a quick buck.

That's why I've started gravitating toward films from other foriegn countries (my recent obsession is Spain...after Pan's Labryinth and All About My Mother, I'm intrigued! I suspect I'll come back to the korean film industry after a break to see what its managed to come up with... but until then, I'm going to test out new waters =).

Mark Russell said...

Maybe I should clarify. I am not saying Korean filmmakers should make movies aimed at the world market. I am saying Korean filmmakers, like all artists, benefit from engaging with other artists, cultures, etc. from all over the world. I am talking about input, not output. The more and better influences artists receive, the better their works are.

But when it comes to what artists make, I have no preference over local/global, art-house/mainstream, or whatever. That is up to each filmmaker.