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Box Office Reports
Box Office: March 21-April 3, 2013
Apr 05, 2013
- Writerby Darcy Paquet
A new Korean film sits atop the box office in the relatively quiet period of late March. Debut director ROH Deok’s Very Ordinary Couple, which is billed as a romantic comedy, but which might also be described simply as a relationship drama, made an impressive start with just short of 1.4 million admissions in two weeks. The film stars KIM Min-hee and LEE Min-ki as a recently separated couple who, being employees at the same bank, must deal with the prospect of continually seeing each other on a daily basis. This inevitably leads to tension and flareups, but over time their feelings towards each other begin to change. Viewers have praised the strong acting in the film as well as its comparatively realistic, non-romantic view of contemporary relationships. Director ROH previously worked as a scripter on JANG Joon-hwan’s cult classic Save the Green Planet! (2003) and also received praise for her short film The Secret within Her Mask (2005).
Also opening strongly was the Hollywood film G.I. Joe: Retaliation, which has drawn particular attention in Korea for the casting of local star LEE Byung-hun. The film opened on March 28th and managed to gross 1.05 million admissions in its first week. The original film G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, in which LEE also played a prominent role, opened in Korea in August 2009 and recorded a total of 2.7 million admissions.
Continuing to sell tickets in the #3 slot was My Paparotti, a human drama about the relationship between a music teacher (HAN Suk-kyu) and a young gangster endowed with an exceptional singing voice (LEE Je-hoon). After three weeks on release the film has garnered a respectable, if not exceptional, box office total of 1.42 million admissions. This places it ahead of Hollywood zombie film Warm Bodies, which opened on the same day and originally outperformed My Paparotti in its first week. Warm Bodies has amassed a total of 1.14 million admissions.
Quentin TARANTINO’s latest film Django Unchained opened in Korea on March 21st, and was well-received by critics but failed to break through to a wider audience. Its two week total stands at 243,039 admissions, compared to an overall total of 336,312 admissions for the director’s previous film Inglourious Basterds. Also opening on March 21st was Joe WRIGHT’s literary adaptation Anna Karenina, which has sold 117,366 tickets in two weeks.
Two massive Korean hit films remain in the box office top 10, weeks after their original release. Gangster epic New World has now amassed a total of 4.56 million admissions in seven weeks. Meanwhile, the human drama Miracle in Cell No. 7, which has now been on release for 11 weeks, added to its jaw-dropping total to reach 12.75 million admissions. It now looks unlikely to pass The Host (2006) and The Thieves (2012), which both topped 13 million, but it has secured its place as the third best-selling Korean film of all time.
Finally, the most remarkable box office story of the month is the low-budget independent film which ranks at #10. O Muel’s Jiseul, a film set during the massacre of civilians on Jeju Island in 1948, originally premiered at the 2012 Busan International Film Festival and went on to win the top prize in the World Dramatic Film category at Sundance. In Korea, the film has been generating phenomenal word-of-mouth despite its low-budget origins and limited release. It opened first on Jeju Island, where it sold an astounding 10,000 tickets (usually considered the benchmark for a successful independent release) before being released in the rest of the country on March 21st. Since then it has boosted its total to over 70,000 tickets, and it only continues to gather momentum. Within the realm of independent cinema, this is a blockbuster performance that only occurs once every several years, and observers are watching with interest to see how much the film will ultimately earn.