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Box Office: February 21-March 6, 2013

Mar 08, 2013
  • Writer by Darcy Paquet
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A new film emerged at the top of the box office in late February and early March, pushing box office phenomenon Miracle in Cell No. 7 back to #2.

Gangster epic New World enjoyed a strong opening on February 21st thanks in part to its high-profile cast, and positive word-of-mouth has helped it to maintain its position at the top of the chart for the past two weeks. Its 14 day total stands at 2.8 million admissions, the equivalent of US$19.1 million. The film is the second directorial effort by PARK Hoon-jung, who made his debut with The Showdown in 2011, and who is also well-known as the screenwriter of RYOO Seung-wan’s The Unjust (2010) and KIM Jee-woon’s I Saw the Devil.
New World is centered on a powerful crime syndicate that is thrown into disarray when its leader is killed and a succession battle ensues. LEE Jung-jae plays a police officer who over the course of many years has infiltrated himself into the gang’s hierarchy. With a baby on the way, he is anxious to retire from the gang, but his handler (CHOI Min-shik) pushes him to continue working on the inside for a bit longer.
The success enjoyed by New World didn’t prevent the massive box office hit Miracle in Cell No. 7 from sailing past the 10 million admissions mark in late February. It is the eighth film in Korea to reach this milestone, and as of March 6th its total stood at 11.7 million admissions. Given its continued success, the film has an outside chance of passing The Host and The Thieves to set a new record for local films. The overall best-selling film in Korea to date is James CAMERON’s Avatar with 13.4 million admissions. Miracle in Cell No. 7 tells the story of a man with the mental capabilities of a child who, after being wrongly imprisoned, is reunited with his daughter thanks to a clandestine effort on the part of his cellmates.
Meanwhile RYOO Seung-wan’s action blockbuster The Berlin File added another 800,000 admissions to bring its overall total to just past 7 million admissions. Having eclipsed Swiri, it now qualifies as the best-selling action film in Korean cinema history. The film tells the story of rival spies working for the North Korean and South Korean intelligence agencies in Berlin.

The Hollywood film at #5 has drawn particular notice in Korea because it is the overseas debut of Korean director PARK Chan-wook. Stoker, starring Nicole KIDMAN, Mia WASIKOWSKA, and Matthew GOODE opened on February 28th and has accumulated roughly 300,000 tickets sales in its first seven days. This falls significantly short of hit status, however it did perform much better than the Hollywood debut of another well-known Korean director KIM Jee-woon. KIM’s The Last Stand, shot in the US and starring Arnold SCHWARZENEGGER, managed to sell only 65,000 tickets since its debut on February 21. This places it at #11 in the above chart.
The new Korean film An Ethics Lesson, starring LEE Je-hoon, CHO Jin-woong, KWAK Do-won, KIM Tae-hoon, and MOON So-ri, fell short of expectations with 220,000 admissions in 14 days. The film tells a complex story through the perspectives of multiple characters who are connected to the murder of a young woman. It marks the directorial debut of PARK Myoung-rang.
Finally, Nobody’s Daughter Haewon, the latest low-budget feature by gifted auteur HONG Sangsoo, opened on February 28th and sold roughly 15,000 tickets in its first week. HONG’s previous film In Another Country, which screened in competition at Cannes and starred French actress Isabelle HUPPERT, topped out at just over 30,000 admissions. The comparatively strong opening for Nobody’s Daughter Haewon may be due in part to the widespread praise afforded young actress JUNG Eun-chae, who is making her first appearance in a HONG Sangsoo film.

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