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S. Korean blockbusters are doing poorly at Box Office

Posted February. 04, 2022 07:48,   

Updated February. 04, 2022 07:48


South Korean blockbusters “The Pirates: The Last Royal Treasure” and “King Maker,” which premiered on January 26, targeting the Lunar New Year holiday, were expected to bring many movie fans to theaters. However, due to the high number of infections caused by the Omicron variant during the holiday, “The Pirates: The Last Royal Treasure” and “King Maker” were only viewed by 880,000 and 480,000 people, respectively, until Wednesday.

As the two blockbusters have performed poorly due to the Omicron variant, theaters are struggling even more. As of Thursday, there is no more South Korean blockbuster with a production budget of 10 billion won or more scheduled to premiere in February or March. No blockbuster will premiere for two months after “The Pirates: The Last Royal Treasure” and “King Maker.”

“Emergency Declaration,” which was originally scheduled to premiere last month, delayed its plan due to strengthened social distancing guidelines and has not set a premiere date yet. The aviation disaster movie features top-class actors, including Song Kang-ho, Lee Byung-hun, Jeon Do-yeon, and Kim Nam-gil, and has a production budget of 24.5 billion won.

“Hansan,” which was directed by Kim Han-min who directed “Roaring Currents” with the highest Box Office record in South Korean movie history, also delayed its premiere from last summer to this year’s summer but it remains to be seen due to many factors, including social distancing guidelines. “Alien,” which was directed by Choi Dong-hoon who also showcased “Tazza,” and “Broker,” which is the first South Korean film directed by Japanese director Hirokazu Koreeda and features Song Kang-ho, Gang Dong-won, Bae Doo-na, and Lee Ji-eun (IU), finished filing in April and June last year, respectively. However, it is also unclear when they will be premiered exactly, although it is expected to be some time this year. “Hero,” a new movie by director Yoon Je-kyoon who directed “Haeundae” and “Ode to My Father” with over 10 million views, postponed its premiere schedule from 2020 to this year but the exact timing has not been announced yet.

There are 15 South Korean blockbuster movies in Top 20 Box Office rankings, including “Train to Busan,” “Roaring Currents,” and “Along with the Gods” series. South Korean blockbusters are the main content that attracts viewers to theaters. “Without a South Korean blockbuster movie that brings families to theaters, things will continue to be challenging,” said film critic Kim See-moo.

Hollywood blockbusters that are premiering one by one after some delays are another reason that makes the premier schedule of South Korean movies unsure. “The 355,” “Death on the Nile,” “Uncharted,” “The Batman,” and “Moonfall” are some of the Hollywood blockbusters that will premier in February or March.

Movie theaters are trying to attract viewers by using special theaters, such as IMAX. CGV will re-release “Dune” and “Dunkirk” in IMAX theaters and “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” in a 4DX theater on Wednesday. Megabox will also re-lease “Dune” in its Dolby Cinema theater on Wednesday.

According to CGV, “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” which had been viewed 7.4 million times despite the pandemic after its premiere on December 15 last year, had an IMAX theater share of 43.9 percent until January 2, much higher than the general theater’s share of 24.3 percent during the same period. Considering that only 50 to 70 percent of seats are filled due to social distancing guidelines, IMAX theaters played an important role in attracting moviegoers. “We will offer viewing experience only available at theaters to bring back moviegoers,” said Hwang Jae-hyun, the head of communication at CGV.

Hyo-Ju Son hjson@donga.com