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Korean Theaters Sell 227 Million Tickets in Record Year

Jan 03, 2020
  • Writer by Pierce Conran
  • View6649
10 Million Viewer Film Club Grows by 5

Korea’s film industry ended 2019 with a bang, as local disaster action-drama ASHFALL lorded over the charts at the tail end of a massive 12 months. It was a record-breaking year for the exhibition sector, which sold a record 226.68 million tickets, among several new box office benchmarks, while local films claimed a majority share for the ninth year in a row.

This year’s total marked a 4.8% rise over last year’s 216.39 million entries, and a 3% swell over the previous record holder, which was 2017’s 219.88 million admissions. Korean films accounted for 51% of that, which amounted to 115.62 million tickets, the third highest figure on record, behind 2013’s 127.29 million and 2016’s 116.56 million.

Overall sales reached KRW 1.91 trillion (USD 1.65 billion), a 5.5% gain on last year’s KRW 1.81 trillion (USD 1.57 billion), the previous benchmark. Sales of local films also soared to a new high, with KRW 970.8 billion (USD 838.75 million) of revenue generated, eclipsing 2016’s KRW 927.9 billion (USD 801.68 million).

2019 was also the first year to welcome five new films to the ten million admissions club, trouncing 2016’s record of four. If ASHFALL continues to perform well, the number for the year may yet rise to six. 

CJ Entertainment’s Extreme Job was the first to pass the mark this year and went on to attract 16.26 million viewers, the second highest total of all time behind 2014’s Roaring Currents (17.62 million). Walt Disney then scored the best overall result for a foreign film with Avengers: Endgame, which sold 13.93 million tickets. CJ did it again with BONG Joon-ho’s Palme d’Or-winning PARASITE (10.08 million), while Walt Disney reached the marked successively with Aladdin (12.55 million) and Frozen 2 (13.06 million and counting).
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