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The Top Korean Movies by Box Office Takings

2007/06/08 Source

As big Hollywood blockbusters start flooding our screens this summer, with every one claiming some box office record or other, the Chosun Ilbo for the first time rates the ticket sales of Korean movies, as opposed to audience numbers. The numbers come from movie distributors like CJ Entertainment, Showbox and Cinema Service, and the results are sometimes surprising.

When we rated the top 10 according to box office takings, the first to fifth were all overturned (chart 1). Thus "The Host" by Bong Joon-ho, which was seen by 13.02 million people, only comes second with a total income of W79.1 billion (US$1=938). Instead, "The King and the Clown" by Lee Joon-ik, which was seen by 12.3 million people, came first with a total income of W80.5 billion. "Taegukgi: The Brotherhood of War" by Kang Je-gyu, which was rated third according to audience numbers, dropped to fourth with a total income of W72.4 billion. And "Silmido" by Kang Woo-seok, which was fourth, rises one notch with a total income of W73.6 billion.

This is the first time movies have been rated according to ticket income. Until now movie distributors have hesitated to release box office data for reasons of confidentiality.

There have always been requests in Chungmuro to rate the top 10 movies according to income. People pointed out that audience numbers include too many discounts and free admissions. Movie investor Park Hyun-tae of Sovik Venture Capital said, "Frankly, what is it worth if 10 million people see the movie with free tickets? We should rate movies according to income instead of audience numbers".

There were indications that movie audiences were inflated when "The Host" and "The King and the Clown" were playing last year, and three years ago when "Taegukgi" and "Silmido" were on. Some argued that there are too many discounts at the end of screenings to boost audience figures. Of course, movie distributors may disagree. Showbox, which distributed "The Host", says unlike "The King and the Clown", which was rated 18, "The Host" was rated 12. It seems that the show income decreased a little because of discounts for students and matinee prices youngsters often use.

"Friend" (2001) by Kwak Gyeong-taek, which was fifth by audience, was rated seventh according to theatre income. Yang Jung-Gyeong, Jininsa Film said "Friend" drew huge audiences. "But provincial ticket prices are about W1,000 cheaper than in Seoul, so maybe the rate of local audiences were higher". "Shiri" (1999) by Kang Je-gyu came ninth according to audience figures but was not in the top 10 for box office takings. The reason? Ticket prices increased to W7,000 in December 2000. When "Shiri" opened in 1999, they were still W6,000.

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