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Ko - production in Busan
  • Mighty Start, Bright Prospect
  • by JI Yong-jin  /  Feb 26, 2013
  • Korean film industry is booming in 2013
     
     
    Miracle in Cell No. 7, without starring any super star, has finally attracted 10 million viewers as of February 23rd in the afternoon. About 4 months have passed since Masquerade broke 10 million mark. The Korean spy action blockbuster The Berlin File is also doing well by selling 6.6 million tickets so far. The Korean film industry looks hopeful in the beginning of 2013.
     
    ▶ 10 million views in February


    Even before the second month of 2013, a film has drawn 10 million moviegoers to theaters. It was an unprecedented case that two films, The Thieves and Masquerade exceeded 10 million views in a row last year. It didn’t taken long until another film, Miracle in Cell No. 7, sold as well as those. This is the best record ever for among Korean human comedy films.

    After breaking 9 million mark on February 19th, 27 days after the release, Miracle in Cell No. 7 met 10,026,732 viewers as of February 23rd, on the 32nd day of its screening. It is about 4 months after Masquerade became the 7th Korean film to meet 10 million audiences on October 20th, 2012. Miracle in Cell No. 7 became the 8th member of so called ‘the 10 million club’ after The Thieves (13,030,227), The Host (13,019,740), King And the Clown (12,302,831), Masquerade (11,951,609), TaeGukGi: Brotherhood of War (11,756,735), Haeundae (11.39 million, approx.) and Silmido (11,081 thousand, approx.).

    ‘10 million views’ is a dream record in the Korean film industry. It means 1 out of 5 people watched the film. This is really an amazing score. Baseball is the most popular sport in Korea and it is considered as a big hit if baseball games attract 7 million spectators for 6 month. Considering that a film runs for about a month, it’s not hard to see how great the number 10 million is.

    This amazing record made by Miracle in Cell No. 7 is especially meaningful because it cost the least amount of budget among all the films that collected 10 million viewers. The break even point of the film was 1.7 million. It tells how big profit the film made. Except for RYU Seung-ryong, who recently appeared in several hit films including War of the Arrows, All About My Wife and Masquerade, there are no acclaimed stars in the film. The achievement of Miracle in Cell No. 7 clearly makes it possible to predict what the Korean film industry will be like in 2013.
     
    ▶ Possibilities of genre films proved


    Besides Miracle in Cell No. 7, The Berlin File, the spy action blockbuster directed by RYOO Seung-wan, is strongly tempting film fans to cinemas. The Berlin File is writing a new history of Korean action film as it broke 6.6 million mark on February 24th. Exceeding 1 million in 3 days, 2 million in 5 days, 3 million in 9 days, 4 million 12 days, 5 million in 14 days and 6 million in 20 days, it has kept the fastest selling rate in 2013.

    As well as beating Swiri (5.82 million) in 19 days, it drew more viewers than The Man from Nowhere (6.28 million) to become the biggest hit among Korean action films ever made. Considering the fact that it took The Good, The Bad, And The Weird and The Man From Nowhere 27 days and 58 days respectively to collect 6 million viewers, 6 million in 20 days is a very fast rate. Before the end of February comes, it made the greatest record as a Korea action film.

    With the budget around KRW 11 billion (USD 10.1 million) and starring acclaimed actors such as HA Jung-woo, HAN Suk-kyu, RYOO Seung-bum and JUN Ji-hyun, it brings the excitement of an action film just like the Bourne trilogy. Hence, a signigicant portion of the viewers are willing to watch it again and the age group is widening from 20s and 30s to teenagers and 40s. It is expected to hit longer.

    Now, New World is set to spur the boom of the industry. New World, the second feature directed by PARK Hoon-jung, is testing the new possibility of Korean noir. Expectations are pretty high. On February 21st, the day of release, it was viewed by 168,960 all over the country and topped the Korean box office. It has maintained it position by gathering over a million audiences in 4 days. This is a better score that what the biggest hit of early 2012 Nameless Gangster: Rules of the Time made last year. This is was predicted when the film took the highest booking share before release.

    The reactions are explosive. There are favorable comments from audiences saying, “It is as good as I expected”, “It makes me want to come back. The actors’ acting was really good and the direction created a lot of tension” and “It really is a new world. I hope the director makes it in a series.” Expectations grow as the director already expressed intention to make a sequel at an interview. Will we finally meet a Korean hit noir series? New World has the key.

    Other genre films such as the comic drama South Bound, the romantic comedy How to Use Guys with Secret Tips and the criminal drama An Ethics Lesson are also receiving signigicant reactions. Besides, Korean directors’ Hollywood debut, KIM Jee-woon’s The Last Stand and PARK Chan-wook’s Stoker, are expected to invigorate the market. Therefore, the growth on the Korean film industry will be accelerated by films planned to come out in March and April.
     
    ▶ Prospect for Prosperity in 2013


    Films that received attention at foreign film festivals such as Nobody’s Daughter Haewon by HONG Sangsoo, Behind the Camera by E J-yong and Jiseul by O-Muel are going to be released in late February. Our Homeland directed by the second generation of North Korean in Japan YANG Yong-hi and Jury, the short film directed by KIM Dong-ho are also prepared to meet their viewers in March.

    There are commercial movies in the line up as well. The Gifted Hands starring KIM Gang-woo and KIM Beom and My Paparotti, where HAN Suk-kyu and LEE Je-hoon appear, are set to come out in March. More anticipated films are going to meet us in April. Some men might be anxious to watch Fist of Legend starring HWANG Jung-min, YU Jun-sang and YOON Je-moon and directed by KANG Woo-suk. It is an action film based on a popular webtoon about middle-aged men who used to be called the ‘living legends’ at high school meeting on the ring for a reality TV show ‘Fist of Legend’. The director KANG and leading actors are still working hard to come up with real action sequences.

    Running Man
    , the first Korean film in cooperation with 20 Century Fox as the main investor is another film presented in April. Sanford PANITCH, the president of 20 Century Fox International Production (FIP) once said, “The fact that the market share of Korean films in Korea outnumbers 50% means that they have a quite stable market. We will investigate Korean market more in detail.” He also said, “I’ve watched almost all the films ranked in the top 10 in the Korean box office in recent 4~5 years. There are quite a number of Korean directors and actors I’m interested in working with.” Hence, Running Man is a noteworthy film not only for Koreans but also for Americans.

    On February 5th, the Korean Film Council (KOFIC) announced the annual report with the subject of ‘Summary of Korean Film Industry in 2012’ saying, “In 2012, Korean films made progress in mean profit by 13%, which is the biggest progress since we started compiling statistics in 2005.” The gross number of audiences increased from the previous year by 21.9% and the accumulated number of audiences exceeded 100 million. It seems that the market has completely recovered from the depression with the decrease in profit by 43.5% in 2008. Continuing the growth of 2012, they have been doing well during the first 2 months of 2013 and the industry is expected to result in successful outcome.
     
     
     
     
     
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