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[HanCinema's Box Office Review] 2013.09.13 - 2013.09.15


Han Jae-rim's "The Face Reader" dominated Korean cinemas this past weekend, walking away with one of the highest opening weekend hauls of the year. Han's historical drama stole 1.8M admissions (63%) from over 1,190 screens, and has now claimed nearly 2.6 million admissions ($17.1M) in just under a week. Last week's number one, Lee Seung-joon-I's action comedy "The Spy", floundered in second with just 377,861 (12.5%), less than half of what it received the week before. It wasn't just Lee's film that suffered though, a number of foreign entries also found it hard going with even popular animations such as "Monsters University" (5.3%) and "Despicable Me 2" (4.6%) caught blushing in the face of another local showstopper.  

In Han's latest, the most skilful face reader (played by Song Kang-ho) gets pulled from his life of seclusion and finds himself in the middle of a political power struggle over the crown. Set during Korea's Joseon dynasty, "The Face Reader" looks poised to quickly jump into the year's top ten and perhaps even has hopes to mirror the success Choo Chang-min's "Masquerade" enjoyed this time last year. Currently, "Masquerade" (12.3M) is the highest period drama in Korea's all-time top ten, followed closely by Lee Joon-ik's "The King and the Clown" (12.3M).

After a hard-hitting season of local thrillers and blockbusters, "The Face Reader" seems a well-timed release that offers locals something a little more nostalgic going into the cooler season. The star power of Song Kang-ho and Lee Jung-jae are an exciting factor as well. Song is hot off the "Snowpiercer" (9.2M) express, while Lee featured in the gangland epic "The New World" (4.6M) that rock audiences earlier in the year. It's still early days for "The Face Reader", but already it looks like another massive crowd pleaser is upon us.

"The Spy" (1.6M) briefly held the top spot last weekend, but struggled to follow-up on that opening weekend success. It was followed in third by the German-America fantasy flick "The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones" (176,362), which was this past weekend's highest grossing foreign entry. From there it was almost exactly 5% a piece for all the foreign entries from third until sixth, with "Now You See Me" breaking that spread by claiming just 23,406 (0.7%).

Younger moviegoers and animation fans seemed split between "Monster's University" (197,874), "Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters" (173,223), and "Despicable Me 2" (149,014), all of which have yet to claim more than 350,000 admissions. "Hide and Seek" (18,679), "Snowpiercer" (15,916), and "Our Sunhi" (10,102) brought in the rear, with Hong Sang-soo's new musing "Our Sunhi" replacing Kim Ki-duk's bloody drama "Moebius" in tenth.

- C.J. Wheeler (; @KoreaOnTheCouch)

Korean Box Office - Admissions for the Weekend 2013.09.13 - 2013.09.15 (

# Films Release date Week-end Total
1 "The Face Reader" (관상) 2013/09/11 1 891 969 2 599 385
2 "The Spy" (스파이) 2013/09/05 377 861 1 655 439
3 "The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones"   176 364 211 519
4 "Monsters University"   175 272 197 874
5 "Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters"   158 637 173 223
6 "Despicable Me 2"   149 014 320 609
7 "Now You See Me"   23 408 2 687 147
8 "Hide and Seek" (숨바꼭질) 2013/08/14 18 679 5 581 856
9 "Snowpiercer" (설국열차) 2013/08/01 15 916 9 271 364
10 "Our Sunhi" (우리 선희) 2013/09/12 10 102 13 125
Korean movies only  
  "Project Cheonan Ship" (천안함 프로젝트) 2013/09/05 4 587 12 957
  "Moebius" (뫼비우스) 2013/09/05 1 836 32 135
  "The Flu" (감기) 2013/08/14 751 3 117 822
  "On the Road" (길위에서) 2013/05/23 245 49 643
  "Love in 42.9" (낭만파 남편의 편지) 2013/09/12 209 567
  "Seong Chun-Hyang" (1961, 성춘향) - Re-release   169 3 669
  "The Big Picture" (그리고 싶은 것) 2013/08/15 139 4 765
  "The Terror Live" (더 테러 라이브) 2013/08/01 129 5 578 961
  "Over and Over Again" (개똥이) 2013/09/05 106 586
  "Jeonju Digital Project 2011: Memories of a Morning" (디지털 삼인삼색 2011: 어느 아침의)   76 76

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