Korea’s box office in the first half of 2011 has dipped 2.3%. From January to June, theaters took in 68.3 million admissions and KW536.4bn (US$507.2m), down from the 69.76 million admissions and KW549.3bn (US$519.4m) in the same period of time in 2010.
Last year, 3D films with higher ticket prices led by <Avatar> brought about an increase in box office gross despite a decrease in admissions. This year’s 3D tentpoles such as <Kung Fu Panda 2> and <Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides> did well at the box office but were not enough to make up for decreasing admissions.
Despite a crunch at the box office, Korean films did well - clocking up KW24.1bn (US$228.1m), up 9.9% year-on-year. Admissions for Korean films were also up 8.9% with 32.7 million admissions. Based on admissions, Korean films took 48% market share, up from 43.1% last year.
The top film of the first half was the Korean film <Sunny>, which opened May 4. It took in 5.9 million admissions by June 30 and quickly went past the 6 million mark earlier this month. Without any big stars or provocative material, the film tells the story of a group of women who reunite 25 years after they were thrown apart by an accident during preparations for a high school performance with their girl band “Sunny”. The film’s second weekend on release took in about twice as much as its opening weekend, and word-of-mouth has been giving this 80s nostalgia film staying power at the box office.
Amongst distributors, CJ E&M dominated with 27 films such as <Sunny> and <Kung Fu Panda 2>. The leading local investor/distributor, which also handles DreamWorks and Paramount pictures, took 34.1% of the market share – more than one third of all admissions in the first half. Lotte Entertainment at second place took in less than half of that with 13.6% market share, mostly with local films such as <Meet the In-laws> and <Children...> Sony Pictures Releasing Buena Vista Korea took third place amongst distributors with 11.2% market share.
Looking at the second half of the year, <Transformers: Dark of the Moon> is already clocking up records on a daily basis and other big-budget films are lined up for release. Korean releases this summer include the urban motorcycle action thriller <Quick>, the 3D sea creature thriller <Sector 7>, director Jang Hun’s Korean War drama <The Front Line>, and at year end, audiences can expect to see director Kang Je-gyu’s epic war drama <My Way>, starring Jang Dong-gun and Odagiri Joe.
Hollywood films will out in force, too, with upcoming releases such as the last installment of the Harry Potter series, <Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2> alongside <Transformers: Dark of the Moon>, both in 3D. Captain America: The First Avenger is due for release this summer as well as Cowboys & Aliens.
KOFIC’s analysis is that admissions and gross may have dipped in this year’s first half, but with large-scale films putting up a good fight and the possibility of having more films that take in 2 – 3 million admissions in the second half, this year’s box office has the potential to end with overall satisfactory results.
Box Office Top 10 January 1 – June 30, 2011
(Title/ country/ distributor/ number of screens/ admissions/ gross)
1. Sunny (Korea) CJ E&M (471) 5,902,656 / KW43,351,097,600
2. Kung Fu Panda 2 (US) CJ E&M (951) 4,875,685 / KW42,998,167,500
3. Detective K: Secret of Virtuous Widow (Korea) Showbox/Mediaplex (536) 4,785,312 / KW35,836,072,000
4. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (US) Sony Pictures Releasing Buena Vista Korea (963) 3,128,210 / 27,268,929,500
5. Meet the In-laws (Korea) Lotte Entertainment (472) 2,593,288 / KW19,161,793,500
6. X-Men: First Class (US) 20th Century Fox Korea (587) 2,408,021 / KW18,142,979,000
7. The Last Godfather (Korea) CJ Entertainment (493) 1,998,059 / KW14,558,299,500
8. GLove (Korea) CJ Entertainment (610) 1,888,100 / KW13,757,574,500
9. Children… (Korea) Lotte Entertainment (510) 1,865,917 / KW13,567,006,000
10. Gulliver's Travels (US) 20th Century Fox Korea (497) 1,762,040 / KW16,441,196,500
*Exchange rate: US$1.00 = KW1,057 as of July 8