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Box Office: March 7-20, 2013

Mar 22, 2013
  • Writer by Darcy Paquet
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Box office figures as a whole have cooled down in recent weeks, as Korea enters what is traditionally an off season for moviegoing. Nonetheless there were still positive signs to be seen for local films.

Topping the box office once again was the gangster epic New World, by screenwriter-turned-director PARK Hoon-jung. The film starring LEE Jung-jae, HWANG Jung-min and CHOI Min-shik added another 1.3 million tickets in two weeks to push its total gross over 4 million admissions. The film tells the story of a powerful crime syndicate that must deal with a succession crisis after its leader is killed. LEE Jung-jae plays an undercover police officer who has successfully infiltrated the gang’s hierarchy, but who desperately wants to retire. Director PARK made his debut with The Showdown in 2011, and also wrote the screenplays for RYOO Seung-wan’s The Unjust (2010) and KIM Jee-woon’s I Saw the Devil.
Following behind at #2 was the runaway box office hit Miracle in Cell No. 7, which has been commercially dominant since its release on January 23. After adding another 700,000 admissions to its total, the film has now amassed an astounding 12.5 million admissions. This makes it the third best-selling Korean film of all time, behind CHOI Dong-hoon’s The Thieves (2012) and BONG Joon-ho’s The Host (2006), with 13.1 million and 13.0 million admissions respectively. CAMERON’s Avatar holds the overall record 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.

The Hollywood film Warm Bodies and the Korean film My Paparotti have been neck-and-neck since both were released on March 14th. Although by the end of the week My Paparotti had pulled ahead in daily tallies, for the week as a whole Warm Bodies came out ahead to place at #3. My Paparotti is loosely based on the true story of a young gangster (played by rising star LEE Je-hoon) who is transferred to a new school. His temperamental music teacher (HAN Suk-kyu) initially treats him with disgust, until he discovers that the boy has a truly amazing singing voice. Directed by YOON Jong-chan (Gooseflesh, Blue Swallow), the film has sold 590,659 tickets in seven days.
The Gifted Hands, another new Korean film, was somewhat less successful, taking in 506,508 admissions in 14 days. Directed by GWON Ho-yeong (Parallel Life) and starring KIM Kang-woo, the film tells the story of a police detective who receives help from a mysterious, reclusive man (KIM Beom) who possesses unusual psychic powers.
Apart from RYOO Seung-wan’s action blockbuster The Berlin File, which placed at #8 to bring its overall total to 7.2 million admissions, the remainder of the chart belonged to Hollywood films. Sam RAIMI’s Oz: The Great and Powerful took a slightly disappointing 334,965 admissions in two weeks to rank at #6. Meanwhile Bryan SINGER’s Jack the Giant Slayer added another 224,314 admissions to bring its three-week total to 950,000 admissions. Two Oscar-nominated films also made the chart: Kathryn BIGELOW’s Zero Dark Thirty at #9 with 105,008 admissions in two weeks, and Steven SPIELBERG’s Lincoln at #10 with 92,488 admissions in one week.
Other Korean directors with films currently on release include PARK Chan-wook’s Hollywood debut Stoker, which ranked at #11 and which has now amassed 375,000 tickets. Also, the low-budget Nobody’s Daughter Haewon by HONG Sangsoo has taken 30,676 admissions in three weeks – a comparatively good score for such a limited release.

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