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Box Office Score Peaks After 2-Year Low

2009/09/08 Source

By Lee Hyo-won
Staff Reporter

The South Korean box office saw an all-time high in August, drawing over 20 million moviegoers for the first time in two years, the Korean Film Council (KOFIC) announced Monday.

Some 21.4 million tickets were sold, which purely in terms of numbers would account for about 43.2 percent of South Korea's 49.5-million population.

This is the third time that over 20 million tickets were sold in a single month. In January 2006 "My Boss, My Teacher" among others attracted 20.39 million audience members and, in August 2007, "D-War" and "May 18" were the main catalysts in bringing in 21.56 million moviegoers. Despite ranking second two years ago in terms of number of viewers, August pulled in the highest gross profit ― 153.9 billion won compared to 136.7 billion won in 2007.

Korean summer blockbusters "Haeundae" and "Take Off" attracted a total of 12.93 million moviegoers (60.4 percent of the box office sales). The two alternated between first and second place in the box office for six consecutive weeks. This is the first time that homegrown films have dominated the market share since the success of "The Chaser" in February 2008.

The tsunami film "Haeundae" became the fifth domestically produced film to hit the 10 million viewer mark, reaching it in the third week of August since opening in theaters on July 22. The sports drama "Take Off" has drawn in over 7 million moviegoers as of Sunday since its theatrical release on July 29, according to KM Culture.

Big-budget Hollywood franchises including "Terminator Salvation" and "Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen" drew in crowds of 4.49 million and 7.32 million, respectively but other anticipated blockbusters such as "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" stopped short of 2.95 million. Also, animations such as "Up" and "Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs" did not fare well despite the tendency of family audiences to crowd the summer box office.

"The popularity of `Haeundae' and `Take Off' can be attributed to the power of word-of-mouth", said KOFIC researchers. However, the two films are continuing to dominate the box office for six weeks as recently released Korean films are failing to attract audiences ("A Million", "Possessed" ("Living Death") and "Yoga"). There are complaints about the lack of variety and novelty.

"The hot enthusiasm seen among moviegoers in the beginning of August is beginning to fade, and there is need for a new movie to bring something new in September", said KOFIC.

Meanwhile, the independent film market is also welcoming good news. The critically acclaimed "Treeless Mountain", by Kim So-yong, was sold to over 15 buyers worldwide, said With Cinema last week.

After touring the film circuit including Tokyo, Dubai, Berlin and Australia, "Treeless Mountain" opened in theaters across the United States in April. The movie will now be shown in Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Indonesia, Iran, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Paraguay, Singapore, Thailand, the United Kingdom and Vietnam.

English subtitles are available for "Haeundae" and "Take Off" at CGV Yongsan and CINUS Myeong-dong and Gangnam.

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