Korean films saw their box-office performance decline in January, reflecting a dearth of blockbusters that can beat Hollywood rivals amid a slowdown in overall ticket sales.
According to the movie industry data compiled by CJ CGV, a major multiplex chain in Korea, Korean movies accounted for a 24 percent share in Seoul and 29.6 percent nationwide in January.
Although the figure for Seoul is up from 16.5 percent in December 2004, year-on-year comparison demonstrates a significant turnaround for Korean flicks. Last January, the portion of Korean films in box office sales reached a record 64.5 percent, helped largely by two blockbusters, "Simildo" and "Taegukgi
The disappointing ticket sales and shrinking share offers a warning signal to the domestic film industry, which is still buoyant and festive in connection with a series of international awards bestowed on Korean filmmakers and a hike of funds flowing into the sector".
In the first month of this year, the total number of moviegoers reached 4.58 million, down 12 percent from a year earlier while the nationwide figure stood at 13.5 million, down 18.6 percent.
The year-on-year ticket sales went down for four straight months since October, suggesting that the overall film industry is going through a soft patch.
The data by CJ noted that Kang Woo-suk's latest film, "Another Public Enemy - Public Enemy 2
", starring top-rated actor Sol Kyung-gu
as a prosecutor for the Seoul District attorney's office, was the only hit throughout January, while other local flicks performed poorly.
"Another Public Enemy - Public Enemy 2
", which was released on Jan. 27, has sold 1 million tickets so far. The film, Kang's second attempt at spotting the so-called public enemy who deserves punishment for their horrendous acts, is sequel to his previous hit "Public Enemy".
"However, January is when Hollywood films tend to show strong performances, so the mid- and long-term outlook is not that negative", the CJ report said.
Critics said the weakness in statistics deserves close attention as there are bubbles over the so-called Korean film renaissance, coupled with the broader "Korean wave", an Asia-wide frenzy for Korean pop culture.
In January, Japanese animation feature "Howl's Moving Castle" topped the box office chart, followed by "Alexander", "Ocean's Twelve", "National Treasure", "Kung Fu Hustle".
By distributor, Cinema Service carved out a 31 percent share, with CJ Entertainment (15.8 percent), Showbox (11.7 percent) and Buena Vista International (11.5 percent) trailing behind.
By Yang Sung-jin