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[HanCinema's Box Office Review] February


Lee Hwan-gyeong's "Miracle in Cell No.7" continued to dominate proceedings this past month, advancing its admissions tally to just over 11 million ($74M). After being released late in January, "Miracle in Cell No.7" came into the charts to beat off Korea's second highest grossing film of the year, Ryoo Seung-wan's espionage thriller "The Berlin File" (6,904,728). Lee Hwan-gyeong's would have completely stolen the show, but was marginally outdone in the first and fourth weeks by "The Berlin File" and, then again, by Park Hoon-joeng-I's "The New World".

"The Berlin File" hit the Korean market a week after Lee's big moneymaker, and for that week it did manage to outshine Lee's hit, if only by a small margine. Many were excited to see what Ryoo's latest piece had to offer, as his last film, the gripping 2010 crime thriller "The Unjust", did more than turn a few heads. "The Berlin File" stars Ha Jung-woo, Han Suk-kyu, Ryoo Seung-bum, and Jun Ji-hyun as undercover intelligence agents, from both sides of the Korean border, get caught in an international conspiracy. After being demoted to second, "The Berlin File" made that position its own during the second and third weeks, but was pushed towards the wrong end of the chart in week four as audiences were treated to Park Hoon-jung's second major feature: "The New World"

Despite Park's lack of directing experience, he does have some interesting and acclaimed films under his belt that set this pot of anticipation boil. He previous film "The Showdown" was a flop at the box office, but even though the film crashed out of the publics favour his contribution to two other films, that also came out in 2010, cannot so easily be forgotten. Park actually scripted Ryoo Seung-wan's "The Unjust" as well as one of my personal favourites "I Saw the Devil".

It was definitely another month of top-heavy programming as the average third place admissions count was just 303,727. That figure was bolstered by this month's highest grossing foreign film "A Good Day to Die Hard". The film is the fifth installment in the "Die Hard" series that started back in 1988. The legacy faltered somewhat as the film only managed to walk out of the month of February with 1,437,230 admissions, placing it at number seven in the list of the highest grossing films released in Korea for the year. The only other foreign films on that same list are the Oscar winners "Les Misérables" (2,679,263) and "Life of Pie" (1,577,843), along with the Oscar nominated animation feature-film "Hotel Transylvania" (884,999).

Animations continued to come in thick and fast this past month, with the most successful being the Russian animation "The Snow Queen" by directors Vladlen Barbe and Maxim Sveshnikov. Jan Rahbek's "Marco Macaco" entered the charts in week three, but quickly slipped to tenth last weekend. Korea's own "Pororo, The Racing Adventure" fell from third, to sixth, to tenth over the last three weeks of February and still find itself short of the million admissions mark. Other animations that came through were "Delhi Safari" (India), "The Giant King" (US), and "Monsters Inc". (US). "Delhi Safari" is the latest on this list and last weekend saw it claim 90,837 admissions (3.26%).

February also saw the release of "The Last Stand" which was directed by Korea's own Kim Jee-woon ("A Tale of Two Sisters", "I Saw the Devil", and "A Bittersweet Life"), but dispite his involvement in the film Korean audiences seemed impassive towards supporting his efforts overseas. "The Last Stand" also stars the iconic action actor Arnold Schwarzenegger, as well as Forest Whitaker and Johnny Knoxville. The film is currently in its second week and has thus far accumulated 44,278 admissions. Lee Wonsuk's debut film "How to Use Guys with Secret Tips" came into the fray in week two, it entered at fourth (200,891) but stumbled to sixth last weekend (56,007). Last week also saw the release of the thriller "An Ethics Lesson" by Park Myeong-rang, another Korean debutant. The film only has one weekend under its belt and during that short time it collected 145,435 ticket stubs.

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