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Box Office: September 5-25

Sep 27, 2013
  • Writer by TAE Sang-joon
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It seems as though nothing can to stop The Face Reader’s ride. According to the combined ticket sales digital network by KOFIC, this period drama featuring SONG Kang-ho and LEE Jung-jae’s has kept the number one place at the box office with 7.29 million viewers as of September 25th since its release on the 11th.  It is the third feature by HAN Jae-rim, who previously directed Rules of Dating (2005) and The Show Must Go On (2007).
The Face Reader’s powerful run over 13 successive days partly owes to the five-day Chuseok holiday which began on the 18th. By the third week of its release its performance is tied with that of the all time Korean film record of the most viewers held by The Host (13.02 million viewers in total), and exceeds by far the third week performance of Miracle in Cell No 7 (with reached 12.80 million viewers in total) and Masquerade (12.31 million viewers in total) both of which reached seven million viewers within the first three weeks. It is even faster than BONG Jun-ho’s global project Snowpiercer which reached seven million in 15 days.

Now the issue seems to be if The Face Reader will cross 10 million viewers. Going by the figures, things look positive. The reservation percentage of The Face Reader is 35.9% as of the 26th, in its third week. It is also an advantage in that no particular contender film has been released recently. In any case, The Face Reader should continue to do well until the second of October when Wish by LEE Joon-ik will be released, which is LEE’s first film in two years since his Battlefield Heroes.
The Face Reader has reached number one in the global box office as well. According to Rentrak, who checks real time ticket sales in America, The Face Reader earned USD 22 million during the period of the 16th through 22nd. This result exceeds that of Prisoners, a blockbuster featuring Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal, released in four countries on the 20th. The Face Reader has only been released in Korea.
Athough not as great as The Face Reader, SEOL Kyung-gu and MOON So-ri’s comic action piece The Spy: Undercover Operation is also doing well. Released a week earlier than The Face Reader on the 5th, The Spy: Undercover Operation has attracted 2.97 million viewers as of the 25th. The breakeven point of this KRW 8 billion budget film is 3.7 million viewers nationwide, and it may break even depending on the 4th week’s box office performance.
Among Hollywood films, Saw 3D, Dead Silence and James Wan’s horror piece The Conjuring are looking good, all released on the 17th. Based on the true story in America in the 1970s, The Conjuring has been shown to 1.04 million domestic viewers as of the 25th and has shown the best performance among non-Korean films in this week’s box office. Also, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones and Percy Jackson and Sea of Monsters have attracted 0.52 million and 0.47 million viewers, respectively, as of the 25th, and animations targeting at family audiences, Monsters University and Despicable Me 2, have sold 0.72 million and 0.65 million tickets, respectively.
Among low budget independent films, it is noteworthy that HONG Sangsoo’s 15th feature film Our Sunhi has sold more than 30,000 tickets during the first 10 days of its release. Although it is rated for adults only, and consequently screened in a limited number of theaters, it has reached 30,000 viewers in the fastest time ever for a film in the diversity film category of similar size. It is also remarkable that On the Road, LEE Chang-jae’s documentary, has attracted as many as 50,000 viewers since its release on May 23rd. It has been running steadily in small theaters and showing the life of female monks from an observer’s perspective, manifesting the persisting power of the Korean independent documentary.
By TAE Sang-joon


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