[HanCinema's Box Office Review] 2013.10.18 ~ 2013.10.20

The sci-fi thriller "Gravity" has struck the Korean box office to become the first foreign film to take gold since "Now You See Me" back in August. Alfonso Cuarón's spacey drama snatched 45% (714,419 admissions) of the total ticket sales to outplay last week's number one "Hwayi : A Monster Boy" by some margin. "Gravity" (which stars Sandra Bullock and George Clooney) has already made $284M worldwide and its international popularity managed to secure foothold for it in the Korean market. Jang Joon-hwan's action thriller "Hwayi" scoped up 365,175 (18.8%) over 552 screens to advance its total now to just under 2 million admissions, while two new Korean entries ("Fasten Your Seatbelt" and "Queen of the Night") quietly crept into fourth and fifth respectfully with less than 300,000 stubs between them.

Lee Joon-ik's "Hope" scored 317,128 admissions in its third weekend outing, a haul that helped push Lee's eighth feature to 2.2 million admissions ($14.7M). "Wish" entered the charts at number one during this month's first weekend (483,840), but slipped to second after the release of "Hwayi : A Monster Boy" and is now behind both Jang and Alfonso's popular picks. "Wish" is not the type of film cinephiles have come to expect from Lee, a director who is best known for his period pieces and, in particular, his 2005 hit "The King and the Clown" (12.3M admissions); but this, his first feature since "Battlefield Heroes" in 2010, has been warmly welcomed by the Korean public as the frenzy that was the Korean summer cools down.

Ha Jeong–woo has had an extremely productive past two years (appearing in no less than seven features including "The Terror Live", "The Berlin File", and "Nameless Gangster") but has, for now at least, cast aside his acting persona to try his hand at directing. "Fasten Your Seatbelt" is this acting talent's first directorial effect, a reflexive fork in his career that attracted 150,818 (7.3%) during its first weekend out. The film tells the tale of a big Hallyu star aboard a plane heading to Tokyo from Korea's Gimpo airport. The flight is filled with lively characters and things get interesting when the plane flies into a unexpected storm that threatens to bring them all down to Earth. "Fasten Your Seatbelt" stars Jung Kyung-ho, Han Soo-hyun, Kim Jae-hwa, Choi Kyu-hwan, and opened nationwide to 374 screens.

Another debutant also made his entrance this past weekend. Kim Je-yeong's (who wrote the screenplay for "Wonderful Radio") romantic comedy "Queen of the Night" entered the chart with just 136,726 (6.6%), a tally good enough for fifth during this tame time at the box office. "Queen of the Night" stars Chun Jung-myung and Kim Min-jung as a husband and wife who have more than a few secrets between that need to be aired. Kim's feature was the watershed film in this weekend's top ten, with the rest of the admissions tailing off rather sharply thereafter. "The Face Reader" is still around after six weeks in the charts, but only managed to claim 26,380 admissions to hold down sixth. Han Jae-rim's popular period yarn has collected 9.1M admissions during its impressive spell, making it the tenth highest grossing Korea film of all time (just behind "Snowpiercer" and it's heavy haul of 9.3M). Ahn Kwon-tae's "Tough as Iron" has had hard time as well and received just 18,923 in its third weekend. "Tough as Iron" has now moved onto 1.1M admissions and looks unlikely to surpass Ahn's previous efforts of 2.3M for "My Brother" (2004), and the 2M stubs his second feature "Eye for an Eye" scored back in 2008.


- C.J. Wheeler (chriscjw@gmail.com; @KoreaOnTheCouch)


Korean Box Office - Admissions for the Weekend 2013.10.18 - 2013.10.20 (www.kobis.or.kr)

# Films Release date Week-end Total
1 "Gravity"   714 419 828 036
2 "Hwayi : A Monster Boy" (화이 : 괴물을 삼킨 아이) 2013/10/09 365 175 1 918 473
3 "Hope" (소원) 2013/10/02 317 637 2 280 257
4 "Fasten Your Seatbelt" (롤러코스터) 2013/10/17 150 891 182 549
5 "Queen of the Night" (밤의 여왕) 2013/10/17 136 726 171 728
6 "The Face Reader" (관상) 2013/09/11 26 552 9 102 105
7 "Tough as Iron" (깡철이) 2013/10/02 18 923 1 197 450
8 "Despicable Me 2"   10 788 953 779
9 "Captain Phillips"   10 590 15 453
10 "The Conjuring"   10 219 2 259 147
Korean movies only  
  "Koala" (코알라) 2013/10/24 1 490 3 325
  "Vacation" (바캉스) 2013/10/17 1 172 3 029
  "Snowpiercer" (설국열차) 2013/08/01 1 074 9 340 629
  "Our Sunhi" (우리 선희) 2013/09/12 868 66 588
  "Neverdie Butterfly" (네버다이 버터플라이) 2013/10/17 567 787
  "Blood and Ties" (공범 ) 2013/10/24 533 4 539
  "Are You Ready?" (아유레디) 2013/09/26 390 10 607
  "The Basement Satellite" (망원동 인공위성)   257 257
  "Prince Yeonsan" (연산군, 1962) - Re-release   252 3 137
  "Nora Noh" (노라노) 2013/10/31 240 598
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