Film Audiences Favor Grown-Up Experience

Ha Jung-woo and Kim Hye-soo have been voted the most popular actor and actress in Korea in a poll by the Chosun Ilbo and the country's biggest ticketing site Maxmovie. But Hwang Jung-min and Jeon Do-yeon were named as the best actor and actress.

◆ Mature Actors, Mature Audiences

Remarkably, most of the top 10 most popular actors and actresses are in their 30s to 50s, the only exception being Han Hyo-joo, who is in her 20s. The average age for male and female actors is 42.7 and 34.1.

Of the actors, only four are in their 30s, including Ha, Gang Dong-won and Won Bin. A large proportion of the entrants on the popularity list starred in hit movies over the past two years, but Won, Kang, Lee Na-young and Kim Tae-hee managed to stay popular by only appearing in commercials.

The average age of best actors is even higher. Except for Ha, all those in the top 10 are in their 40s or over, and the 10 best actresses are on average 41.7 years old.

Several veteran actors who did not make the most-popular list were instead recognized for their skill, including Youn Yuh-jung, Kim Hae-sook, Jang Young-nam and Moon So-ri.

Pundits attribute the preference for middle-aged actors to soaring numbers of moviegoers in the same age group. "The Korean film industry used to focus on viewers in their teens or 20s, but now it tries to accommodate diverse age groups. As more films target the middle-aged, they cast veteran actors in the same age bracket", said film critic Jeon Chan-il.

A film producer said, "Only five years ago, pretty young actors were almost guaranteed success at the box office, but now viewers don't want to see movies with bad actors any more. Regardless of appearance or age, actors with proven skill are most sought after now".

◆ New Directors

On the other hand, a generational shift seems to be taking place among directors. The people on the 10 best directors list have largely drawn over 10 million viewers in recent years, such as Choi Dong-hoon with "Thieves", Choo Chang-min with "Masquerade", and Lee Hwan-kyung with "Miracle in Cell No. 7".

Most of moviegoers had never heard of the last two before the success of their movies. But some prominent directors who once drew vast audiences did not make the list this time. There were no nods to JK Youn of "Haeundae", Lee Joon-ik of "The King and the Clown", and Kang Je-gyu of "Taegukgi"

◆ Movie Theaters Win

Asked what their favorite way of watching movies is, 87.1 percent of respondents replied the theater, up from 61 percent in 2007. The proportion of those who prefer downloading movies on the Internet dwindled by half from 13.1 percent to 6.4 percent, and of those who favored cable channels by two-thirds from 14.5 percent to 4.8 percent.

Watching DVDs and videos plummeted from 9.6 percent to 0.7 percent over the same period.

Of the five factors influencing people's choice of films, online reviews from punters came only third. Kim Hyung-ho of Maxmovie explained that factors that are irrelevant to the film can come into play when netizens evaluate them. "Some people rate movies poorly just for fun", he said.

He added people are becoming more aware of how diverse tastes are and no longer consider other Internet users' comments very credible.

Instead, recommendations from friends and family came in second, rising from 10.3 percent to 18.8 percent.
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