Three major films will compete for Chuseok weekend [Korean Thanksgiving] this year with another to follow in the next week. While Chuseok has always been a big time for movies, this aggressive marketing push by major studios follows a surprisingly disappointing 2018 Chuseok season, where only "The Great Battle" put out a respectable performance with five hundred thousand admissions.
The other three major films of that time period last year, "The Negotiator", "Feng Shui", and "Monstrum" had less than five hundred thousand admissions between the three of them. The summer season of 2019 has already had its own fair share of disappointments, with "The King's Letters" and "The Divine Fury" posting similarly weak returns.
Increasingly the South Korean market is becoming less concerned with proper strategy and more selling films based on concept. The only obvious commonality between the Chuseok releases this year is their lack of common ground, either with themselves or even recent summer releases. "Tazza: One Eyed Jack" is banking on the popularity of the "Tazza" franchise while "The Bad Guys: Reign of Chaos" is focused on reliving the "Bad Guys" drama.
Such direct appeals to existing fanbases are uncommon in the South Korean market, which is more geared toward originality. However, the "Tazza" franchise is the only one to incorporate gambling as a major plot hook, and "The Bad Guys: Reign of Chaos" is being marketed at least in part as the latest Ma Dong-seok vehicle. The prolific actor's last big action project, "The Gangster, The Cop, The Devil", came out in May.
"Cheer Up, Mr. Lee" is the lone comedy of the bunch, and may have an edge among the older Chuseok crowd who remember lead actor Cha Seung-won as being a comedian - a genre he has not done recently. "By Quantum Physics: A Nightlife Venture" has the weakest pitch of the four, just being an action movie centered around the drug trade in the clubbing scene. That is most likely why it is the only major September movie to be premiering after Chuseok weekend.
Written by William Schwartz
"By Quantum Physics: A Nightlife Venture" is directed by Lee Seong-tae, and features Park Hae-soo, Seo Ye-ji, Kim Sang-ho, Kim Eung-soo, Byun Hee-bong, Kim Young-jae. Release date in Korea: 2019/09/19.
Staff writer. Has been writing articles for HanCinema since 2012, having lived in South Korea since 2011. Started out in Gyeongju, then to Daegu, then to Ansan, then to Yeongju, then to Seoul, lived on the road for HanCinema's travel diaries series in the summer of 2016, and is currently settled in Anyang. Has good tips for utilizing South Korea's public bus system. William Schwartz can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org. He also has a substack at williamschwartz.substack.com where he discusses the South Korean film industry in broader terms and takes suggestions for future movies to review.
"[HanCinema's News] Crowded Field for Film Ahead of Chuseok Weekend"
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