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[HanCinema's Box Office Review] 2013.09.27 - 2013.09.29


Ticket sales slowed considerably in the aftermath of Korea's Chuseok holiday celebrations, but that didn't stop Han Jae-rim's "The Face Reader" from advancing past 8 million admissions ($54M). Last week Han's popular period yarn claimed 2.2 million admissions (51.5%) over a whopping 1,239 screens, but the harvest deities have fled and reduced the blockbuster's momentum here to just 641,786 (36.5%) over 857. "The Face Reader" is also now Korea's 14th highest grossing film of all-time, having just recently passed Kim Han-min's "Arrow, The Ultimate Weapon" (7.4M) and Bae Jong's "Welcome to Dongmakgol" (8M). Han's hit still has more than a million admissions to go if it wants to take on Bong Joon-ho's post-apocalyptic thrill ride "Snowpiercer" (9.3M), a feat that will make it the fifth film in two years to break into the Korea's increasingly unstable top ten.

Bong's electric feature claimed an alarming 6.4 million stubs by its second weekend, and after week three that figure inflated to 8.1 million. Comparatively, "The Face Reader" had 6.8 million admissions in two and now, in its third weekend, has around the same with 8 million admissions. "Snowpiercer" has spent eight weeks in the country's top ranks, its chain only broken this past weekend. During that time the film only held first position for its opening two weeks, then slowly gave way to other local and foreign hits and now finds itself around 4,500 tickets short of the cut. The film marks Bong Joon-ho's second film in Korea's all-time top ten, the other being his 2006 monster mash-up "The Host" which is still Korea's most successful feature ever with over 13 million admissions.

Lee Seung-joon-I's "The Spy" has been out more than a month now and during that competitive time it's amassed 3.2 million admissions ($21.5M), only 234,271 (13%) of which came from this past weekend. Lee's debut feature was sandwiched between the summer thrillers ("Snowpiercer", "The Flu", "The Terror Live", "Hide and Seek") and Han's "The Face Reader", but has helped keep the box office ball rolling for the home team with its well-earned tally. Last week Lee's action comedy held second just ahead of the American supernatural thriller "The Conjuring", but this round went to James Wan's acclaimed thriller with 448,158 (25.7%), a boost that moves "The Conjuring's" ticket count up to 1.5 million ($10.5M).

The top three features ("The Face Reader", "The Conjuring", and "The Spy") captured 75% of the total ticket sales and left the rest struggling to gain traction and substance. Brad Furman's "Runner, Runner" (5.3%), "Despicable Me 2" (4.7%), "Monsters University" (4.6%), "Blue Jasmine" (2%), "Percy Jackson and Sea of Monsters" (1.8%), and "The Mortals Instruments: City of Bones" (1.6%) all collected what they could, with James Han's debut effort "Act" (aka "Jit") rounding out the list in tenth with 11,078 (0.62%). Lee Joon-ik's "Wish – 2013" narrowly missed out on a top ten finish with its 10,041. Lee is best known for his period film "The King and the Clown" which claimed 12.3 millions admissions back in 2005. The film overtook "Taegukgi" (11.7M) and "Silmido" (11M) at the time to become Korea's number one film. A year later, however, Bong released his monster flick that has remained Korea's king ever since.


- C.J. Wheeler (; @KoreaOnTheCouch)

Korean Box Office - Admissions for the Weekend 2013.09.27 - 2013.09.29 (

# Films Release date Week-end Total
1 "The Face Reader" (관상) 2013/09/11 641 786 8 046 362
2 "The Conjuring"   448 158 1 559 738
3 "The Spy" (스파이) 2013/09/05 234 271 3 244 332
4 "Runner Runner"   94 428 120 644
5 "Monsters University"   90 246 748 634
6 "Despicable Me 2"   89 636 819 501
7 "Blue Jasmine"   36 073 54 647
8 "Percy Jackson and Sea of Monsters"   33 880 512 254
9 "The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones"   29 121 561 124
10 "Act" (짓) 2013/09/26 11 078 18 640
Korean movies only  
  "Hope" (소원) 2013/10/02 10 041 47 169
  "Snowpiercer" (설국열차) 2013/08/01 6 453 9 326 518
  "Our Sunhi" (우리 선희) 2013/09/12 6 395 51 405
  "Are You Ready?" (아유레디) 2013/09/26 1 810 2 277
  "Hide and Seek" (숨바꼭질) 2013/08/14 1 276 5 603 419
  "The Russian Novel" (러시안 소설) 2013/09/19 886 3 265
  "Project Cheonan Ship" (천안함 프로젝트) 2013/09/05 690 19 441
  "Hwayi : A Monster Boy" (화이) 2013/10/09 522 2 503
  "Tough as Iron" (깡철이) 2013/10/02 440 2 022
  "Chunhyang" (춘향뎐) 2000/01/29 279 465

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