[HanCinema's Box Office Review] 2015.12.18 ~ 2015.12.20

"The Force Awakens" in Korea to a lukewarm reception as "The Himalayas" comes out on top...

 J. J. Abrams' "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" has been shattering box office records as millions flocked to catch the latest in this billion-dollar franchise. Already the film has made over half-a-billion dollars worldwide ($517 million), but how strong was the force in South Korea? Surprisingly, it was not Abrams saber-spangled spectacle that captured the hearts and minds of Koreans this past weekend; instead, it was Lee Seok-hoon's down-to-earth drama "The Himalayas" with Hwang Jung-min.

Lee, whose previous films include "Pirates" (2014) and "Dancing Queen" (2012), watched his fifth feature outplay "The Force Awakens" by over 200 thousand admissions, ultimately claiming 1.1 million across a thousand screens to top the chart (37.2%). "Star Wars" was not far off Lee's popular drama, however, but its success in Korea did not attract the record-breaking support the film enjoyed elsewhere around the world. Abrams' film was allocated 940 screens, from which it captured 33.2% of the box office pie, or just over 900 thousand admissions ($7.8 million). These top two films combined captured over 70% of the sales and brought in over $16.5 million.

Third place was held by another new release, this time in the form of Park Hoon-jung's historical action piece, "The Tiger: An Old Hunter's Tale" starring Choi Min-sik, Jung Man-sik, Kim Sang-ho and Sung Yoo-bin. With 832 screens to its name, "The Tiger" claimed 16% with 483 thousand tickets going its way in week one. Last weekend's number on, Woo Min-ho's "Inside Men", enjoyed its fourth straight week at the top last weekend, but was finally forced to fourth here with 220 thousand (7.6%). Since its release mid-November, "Inside Men" has attracted 6.45 million filmgoers and banked $43.9 million.

The latest "Pororo" film "Pororo, Cyberspace Adventure" fell two places to find itself in fifth with 91 thousand (2.8%), with the 2003 British-America romantic comedy "Love Actually" making a successful seasonal return by finding 12.4 thousand admissions amidst the holiday rush. The Japanese film "Sea Town Diary" (aka "Our Little Sister", based on Akimi Yoshida's "Umumachi Diary") arrived last Thursday and over the weekend attracted 12.4 thousand admissions (0.4%), while the new Naruto film ("Boruto: Naruto the Movie) followed with 8 thousand admissions of its own (0.25%).

The second-last weekend of 2015 was rounded out by the biographical adventure film "In the Heart of the Sea" by Ron Howard and Jang Jae-hyeon's mystery drama "The Priests". Last weekend Howard's flick entered in second place having attracted 234 thousand (15%); week two, however, saw the film tumble to ninth with only 6 thousand to add (0.2%), moving its total tally in Korea now to 806 thousand ($5.7 million). And "The Priests" enjoyed its last days in the spotlight by finding an additional 4.4 thousand filmgoers to shift its bottom line now to $35.9 million, or 5.4 million admission. "The Priests" was released early November and is currently the eleventh highest-grossing film released in Korea this year.

Korean Box Office - Admissions for the Weekend 2015.12.18 - 2015.12.20 (www.kobis.or.kr)

# Films Release date Week-end Total
1 "The Himalayas" (히말라야) 2015/12/16 1 110 423 1 531 260
2 "Star Wars: The Force Awakens"   901 873 1 071 695
3 "The Tiger: An Old Hunter's Tale" (대호) 2015/12/16 483 623 738 767
4 "Inside Men" (내부자들) 2015/11/19 220 722 6 455 294
5 "Pororo, Cyberspace Adventure" (뽀로로 극장판 컴퓨터 왕국 대모험) 2015/12/10 91 445 283 586
6 "Love Actually"   12 436 229 384
7 "Sea Town Diary" (海街diary)   12 416 17 818
8 "Boruto: Naruto the Movie" (ボルト‐ナルト・ザ・ムービー‐)   8 021 59 715
9 "In the Heart of the Sea"   6 053 806 737
10 "The Priests" (검은 사제들) 2015/11/05 4 441 5 437 813
Korean movies only  
  "Cruel State" (나쁜 나라) 2015/12/03 1 879 11 447
  "Timing" (타이밍) 2015/12/10 840 36 822
  "Love Guide for Dumpees" (극적인 하룻밤) 2015/12/03 805 319 884
  "Where Is My Son??" (나의 아들, 나의 어머니) 2015/12/17 569 1 917
  "The Joseon Magician" (조선마술사) 2015/12/30 401 401
  "In Her Place" (인 허 플레이스) 2015/12/17 388 944
  "You Call It Passion" (열정 같은 소리 하고 있네) 2015/11/25 362 653 900
  "Accidental Detective" (탐정 : 더 비기닝) 2015/09/24 221 2 625 686
  "Odysseo" (오디세오)   200 862
  "We Will Be Ok" (그들이 죽었다) 2015/12/10 195 1 570


- C.J. Wheeler (@WoolgatheristKoreaOnTheCouch)