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Resurrection of Mysterious Match Girl Turns Out Disastrous?

Resurrection of Mysterious Match Girl Turns Out Disastrous?

Posted September. 16, 2002 22:47,   


Resurrection of mysterious match girl looks more like a box office disaster than a hit blockbuster.

“Resurrection of Mysterious Match Girl,” an action pack that came in much fanfare last weekend, recorded a dismal performance coming at the 7th place at the near bottom of the box office ranking. The movie directed by Jang Sun-woo was a mega-scale Korean movie – it spent staggering 11 billion won in production costs over the last 4 years.

It draws, however, only 22,500 moviegoers at 35 theaters in Seoul (72,900 nationwide). The figure is even less than that recorded by Oasis, which is currently opened at 16 theaters. The distributor of the movie referred to the weekend result as “completely ignored by moviegoers.”

Match Girl needs to sell at least 4 million tickets to reach a breakeven point. Given the dismal performance during the weekend, however, the company is worrying whether the movie will be able to stay around through Chusuk holidays, apart form reaching breakeven point that seems almost impossible. It expects half the number of theaters now running Match Girl to draw the curtain down within this week. Busan and Suwon branches of multiplex cinema Mega Box have already decided to call it quit.

What has gone wrong? How did this happen?

“It makes no sense that they poured 11 billion won into such kind of experimental movie,” said movie industry specialists. The point out that the encounter between experimentalist Jang Sun-woo and an 11 billion won-scale blockbuster was ill fated from the very beginning.

“Jang takes a cynical tone towards himself and the film-making institution throughout this movie as shown in the scene where the hero went on a shooting rampage at the office of Tube Entertainment (the movie’s major investor). What I can’t understand is that the production company and the investor decided to finance such a huge amount of money for this kind of out-of-mainstream movie,” said an official from the distributor.

Others also point to that 11 billion won-scale investment is just absurd given the size and profit structure of the domestic market. “The 4 million target for breakeven point is an unrealistic approach,” said Kim Hye-jun, director at the Film Policy Institute.

Investor sentiment in the market is waning after the previous blockbuster failures such as ‘Are U Ready?,” which spent 8 billion won in production. Match Girl’s disastrous performance, therefore, is expected to further take steam out of the film investment market. “With the failure of Match Girl, the industry will have to face difficulties raising funds,” said Kim. “This will, however, will work in favor of the film-making environment in the long term since production companies will sober up to seek consolidations for efficiency or look into profitability.”

Hee-Kyung Kim susanna@donga.com