The month of July has been highly dramatic at the Korean box office, capped by the record-
breaking opening of Korean heist film <The Thieves>
. The star-studded work has even
managed to outperform the hugely anticipated <The Dark Knight Rises>, although due to
release dates it appears at #2 in the July 16-31 chart.
Firstly, Christopher Nolan's <The Dark Knight Rises> enjoyed a tremendous opening weekend
following its July 19 release. The film sold 1,992,182 tickets in the three-day July 20-22 session,
accounting for 65% of overall revenues. With generally positive word-of-mouth, the film
amassed 4.6 million admissions by the end of the month -- a highly impressive performance.
Nonetheless, the performance turned in by CHOI Dong-hoon
’s <The Thieves>, which was
released on July 25, proved to be even more impressive. In its first three-day weekend on July
27-29, the film took an almost identical 2,004,176 admissions. However in the coming week,
viewer interest grew even stronger, with the film selling about 500,000 admissions per weekday
-- an unprecedented level. By July 31, after only a week on release, the film had amassed a
record-breaking 3.9 million admissions. It was expected to overtake <The Dark Knight Rises> in
absolute terms in early August, and observers began speculating that it might pass the 10
million admissions mark by the end of the summer.
<The Thieves>, about a group of crooks from Korea and Hong Kong who team up to steal a
diamond from a Macau casino, is especially notable for its ensemble cast. The film features box
office heavyweight KIM Yun-seok
, <The Chaser>
), veteran actress KIM Hye-soo
(<Tazza: The High Rollers>
), the versatile LEE Jung-jae
), white-hot TV star
KIM Soo-hyun, character actors OH Dal-soo
) and KIM Hae-sook
), and a
major comeback role for Korean Wave star Gianna JUN
(<My Sassy Girl>
). It also includes
Hong Kong stars Simon YAM (<Election>), Angelica LEE Sin-je (<The Eye>), and Derek
TSANG (<Dream Home>). With location shooting in Macau and Hong Kong, the film offered
local viewers various kinds of spectacle and a plot filled with numerous twists.
The box office strength of these two titles managed to sap much of the energy from <Deranged>
, the Korean film that dominated charts in the first half of the month. A thriller about
a mutated parasite that causes widespread fatalities and panic, the film added 1.2 million
admissions in the second half of the month to bring its overall total to 4.5 million tickets.
Although robust by any measure, the total is still somewhat short of what observers may have
expected after the film's strong opening.
Other new releases in July performed at a more modest level. <Ice Age: Continental Drift> was
a massive hit in some territories, but in Korea it managed to sell 700,000 admissions in its first
week. Korean omnibus <Horror Stories>
, which screened as the opening film at the Puchon
International Fantastic Film Festival, sold 190,000 admissions in its first week. The film gathers
together numerous directors with experience in the horror genre. <5 Million Dollar Man>
features legendary K-pop singer/producer PARK Jin-young in a rare acting performance,
nonetheless the film sold only 109,000 tickets in two weeks before disappearing from theaters.
Meanwhile among specialty releases, political documentary <Two Doors>
remarkable run, adding another 6000 tickets to bring its total to 61,741. Centered around a
confrontation between police and evicted residents in the Yongsan district of Seoul, the film has
garnered an unusual amount of attention for a Korean documentary. Two other specialty films
opened in the last week of July and performed reasonably well: <We Need to Talk about Kevin>
by UK director Lynne Ramsay sold 4,934 tickets in six days, while award-winning Korean
independent animated feature <Padak>
opened to 4,951 admissions in seven days.