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[HanCinema's Box Office Review] January


It was a hard month for foreign films here in Korea as January favoured three local films that, between them, held a tight grip on the ticket sales. Lee Hwan-gyeong's "Miracle in Cell No.7" may have stolen the show in the last weekend of the month, but it was Kim Ji-hoon's fiery epic "The Tower" and Jo Jin-kyoo's 5th comedy "Man on the Edge" that held that top position until then. In the foreign corner, two adaptations stood out in the form of the musical drama "Les Misérables" and "Life of Pi". The former has grossed $38.6 million over its six week run in Korean theatres, with "The Tower" close behind on $34.4 million.

Released late in December, Kim Ji-hoon's "The Tower" was offered a warm welcome into 2013 with 812,841 admissions (32.8%), and by January's last weekend it had amassed more than 5 million. Over the course of month the films that held the top spot did so with an average of 931,984 admissions, and second with 477,669. "The Tower" was above this average when it slipped to second in week two when Jo Jin-kyoo's comedy "Man on the Edge" hit the scene. "Man on the Edge" (previously known as "The Gangster Shaman") would eventually earn $24.6 million in three weeks, only to be dislodged in January's last weekend by "Miracle in Cell No.7" (starring Ryu Seung-ryong, Oh Dal-soo and Park Won-sang) which pulled the highest opening weekend of the month with 1,350,291.

Tom Hooper adaptation "Les Misérables" (based off the popular 1862 French novel by Victor Hugo) has been nominated across most of the Oscar's and British Academy Film Awards major categories; the results of which will be revealed at their respected ceremonies on the 24th and 10th of February. This musical drama never fell further than 5th and ended the month having grossed a total $38.2 million in Korea alone. The first weekend of February will mark the film's seventh week in the charts. The other adaptation that will be competing at the 85th Academy Awards is Ang Lee's "Life of Pi" from novel by Canadian author Yarn Martel. "Life of Pi" was released on the 1st and rounded out the month having claimed 1.5 millions admissions ($13.9 million).

Jeong Gi-hoon's "Love 911" (with Go Soo and Han Hyo-joo) was the other Korean film that was on its way out after its pre-Christmas release. This romantic comedy fell out of favour in week three and walked away from the race with a respectable 2.5 million admissions ($16.4 million). Even the presence of Korean actress Bae Doona wasn't able to save "Cloud Atlas" which struggle to reach 500,000 admissions. Surprisingly, despite Korea's general love and appreciation for animations, two Oscar nominated animated features ("Wreck-It-Ralph" and "Hotel Transylvania"), both failed to reach a million admissions and were ultimately trumped by a number of popular and acclaimed live-action features. However a little love was shown when Park Yeong-gyoon's "Pororo, The Racing Adventure" came into the fray late in the month, entering at number three with 312,874 admissions in its first and only weekend thus far. Kim Seong-hoon-III's debut "My Little Hero" came in and out in week two, and was quickly ejected as it slumped to just 184,903 admissions.

Next month's releases have already begun to make their presence felt, starting with Ryoo Seung-wan's action thriller "The Berlin File". The film stars Ha Jung-woo, Han Suk-kyu, Ryoo Seung-bum, Jun Ji-hyun, and has already pull together 905,044 admissions ($5.9 million) since its release on the 30th. Some other Korean film that are set for release are "How to Use Guys with Secret Tips" by the debutant Lee Wonsuk, Kim Tae-gon's "The Sunshine Boys", Park Myeong-rang's thriller "Anger Ethics", Park Hoon-jung's "The New World" and Hong Sang-soo's "Nobody's Daughter Haewon" coming in at the end of February.


- C.J Wheeler (

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