In retrospect, the best predictor for the current trend in successful South Korean movies was "Intimate Strangers" from last October. That adaptation of an Italian film had a strong cast, but little obvious frills. The story takes place during a dinner party and the tone is generally comedic with moments of drama thrown in. The movie needed 1.8 million admissions to break even, but ended up leaving the box office with over 5.2 million admissions.
"Extreme Job" did even better earlier this year, scoring over 16 million admissions versus an expectation of only 2 million admissions. A definite pattern has emerged that a sense of humor correlates with box office success, as "Parasite", "Exit - Movie", and "The Bad Guys: Reign of Chaos" have all emphasized a playful tone and ended up doing quite well for themselves.
What's particularly interesting is that this sense of humor is not universally appreciated. While "Parasite" received major accolades, the other films listed have had more mixed responses from critics. Viewers, on the other hand, who see movies as primarily being about entertainment have been drawn to more comedic options when given the choice between that and something more serious. "The King's Letters" was a notable box office failure, largely because it was simply too serious.
The trend has created a significant spike in the number of mid-budget comedy projects that South Korean studios are considering filming. However, the permanence of this trend is unknown. Prior to "Intimate Strangers" comedies had become rare at South Korean theaters, and it's entirely possible the novelty value may wear off at some point.
Written by William Schwartz
Staff writer. Has been writing articles for HanCinema since 2012, having lived in South Korea since 2011. Started out in Gyeongju, then to Daegu, then to Ansan, then to Yeongju, then to Seoul, lived on the road for HanCinema's travel diaries series in the summer of 2016, and is currently settled in Anyang. Has good tips for utilizing South Korea's public bus system. William Schwartz can be contacted via email@example.com.
"[HanCinema's News] Comedies Strong Predictors of Box Office Success This Year"
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