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BEST FRIEND Hangs on as COVID-19 Drives Viewers Away

Dec 07, 2020
  • Writer by Pierce Conran
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Attendance Craters as Infections Cases around the Capital Rise

Theaters continue to empty out as Seoul and its surrounding areas experienced their worst rise in COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic. After weeks of hefty drops, the Korean box office slid another 40% week-on-week, with weekend viewership down to just 175,000 admissions. This remains higher than the least well-attended frames of the year when weekend attendance was under 100,000 during the spring. Local films continue to maintain an edge with 62% of all sales. 

Claiming top spot for the second time after losing just under half its audience was the period political comedy-drama Best Friend. The film added 63,000 viewers (USD 525,000) in its sophomore frame, raising its total to 327,000 admissions (USD 2.59 million) to date.

Slowing just 36% after over a month in theaters was the crime caper-comedy Collectors. The CJ title claimed another 27,000 entries (USD 221,000), boosting its haul to 1.42 million sales (USD 12 million) to date.

Remaining in third place over its third weekend was the US thriller Run, which eased 42% as 21,000 spectators (USD 181,000) showed up, lifting its total to 234,000 entries (USD 1.99 million).

Netflix musical The Prom debuted in theaters a week ahead of its global streaming launch, welcoming 10,000 viewers (USD 82,000) in fourth place. The starry film claimed 18,000 tickets (USD 144,000) since its Wednesday launch. 

Opening in fifth place was the faith-based picture Fatima, filling 6,000 seats (USD 45,000) over the weekend, with 10,000 tickets (USD 71,000) sold over its first five days.

Outside the top five, the local indie Festival, which picked up four prizes at this year’s Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival (BiFan), debuted in seventh place with 4,000 sales (USD 29,000), posting a healthy 7,000 ticket (USD 52,000) haul in five days.

Debuting this week will be Josée, the highly anticipated commercial film debut of indie film director KIM Jong-kwan, a romantic drama with NAM Joo-hyuk and HAN Ji-min which will be the last film distributed by Warner Bros. Korea before it leaves the market at the end of the year. The film will have no trouble topping the charts but will face a challenge opening in a depressed market, especially as cinemas in Seoul are being ordered to close after 9pm for two weeks in order to get the rise in COVID-19 cases under control.
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