While "The Divine Fury" did not do as poorly as "The King's Letters" at the South Korean box office, its presence in South Korean theaters is significantly diminished this weekend. At this point the movie owes most of its admissions to dedicated repeat viewers and late night screenings. But how did such a hotly anticipated movie with a popular leading star in Park Seo-joon and equally strong first day sales manage to do so poorly in the long haul?
The main problem appears to be a matter of genre. "The Divine Fury" was sold in its trailers as being a horror film, with the malignant supernatural presence being actively frightening. In practice, as was noted by HanCinema's own Panos, the film is a much broader smorgasbord of various film genres. The resulting experience, while intense, did not easily conform to viewer expectations.
What was worse, the other genre elements at play actively undermined the horror of the premise. Various online viewers have described the movie as inherently childish, more fantasy than occult, and relying too heavily on the main character essentially being an action hero.
Ironically enough director Kim Joo-hwan himself has specifically said in interviews that the film is intended to be more fantasy than occult, being a story about a hero saving the world from an evil force intent on dominating it. Kim Joo-hwan also explicitly used the English words 'supernatural thriller' to decribe the movie.
The weak performance of "The Divine Fury" appears to be another case of the marketing team for a movie working at cross purposes with the film's actual target audience. The strong appraisal of dedicated repeat viewers suggests that for those who understood director Kim Joo-hwan's intent the movie was everything they wanted. But for mainstream viewers, the experience was more lacking, as it ran counter to their expectations.
Written by William Schwartz
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 email@example.com.
"[HanCinema's News] "The Divine Fury" Posts Disappointing Returns"
by HanCinema is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
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