By Lee Hyo-won
One out of five Koreans has seen "Avatar".
The blue alien movie is taking the country by storm, becoming the first foreign picture to draw over 10 million viewers, Saturday, according to its local distributor, 20th Century Fox Korea.
Moreover, it has brought about a "revolution" in both profits and expanding horizons for three-dimensional (3D) movies.
"Avatar" is now the highest grossing film here, with sales of 87.2 billion won as of Jan. 22, and theaters are installing more 3D screens to cater to the towering demand.
It may soon be the first film here to make 100 billion won.
"It might be difficult for the movie to draw a bigger audience than "The Host"
, but we estimate that it will garner some 12 million viewers and gross 100 billion won", said its distributor.
Since opening on Dec. 17, it surpassed the box office record for imported films ― 7.44 million viewers set by "Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen" in 2009 ― in just 24 days.
On its 38th day in theaters, the 3D movie hit the 10-million viewer mark ― the sixth film to do so in local theaters.
Only five South Korean movies have ever sold over 10 million tickets ― "Silmido
" (11.08 million in 2003), "Tae-guk-gi: Brothers of War" (11.74 million in 2004), "King and the Clown" (12.3 million in 2005), "The Host"
(13 million in 2006) and "Haeundae"
(11.39 million last year).
"Avatar" easily surpassed the sales record of 81 billion won set by "Haeundae"
. This is due to the fact that admission for 3D movies costs more. Tickets for regular 2D films are 9,000 won but those for 3D are 13,000 won and IMAX, 16,000 won. Some 40 percent of "Avatar's" profits are from 3D screenings, according to the distributor.
Major theater chains CGV and Lotte Cinema announced plans to increase the number of 3D screens, so they would comprise up to 30 percent of screens in their theaters. Previously only 138 theaters here offered 3D screenings.
Despite the high ticket price and the difficulty in securing seats, fans argue that "it's only worth seeing in 3D", as one Netizen, polo7907, said.
Created by the makers of the international hit "Titanic", the movie employs a new CGI technology called e-motion performance capture.
Set in the future, "Avatar" is about a former marine named Jake who travels to an alien planet, Pandora, where he discovers adventure, hope and even love as he befriends the indigenous Na'vis.
With the recent opening of 4D theaters, which provide a five-sensory experience, the "Avatar" hype is forecast to continue well into the Lunar New Year weekend, which runs from Feb. 13 to 15.
According to the Korean Film Council Saturday, "Avatar" continues to dominate sales, accounting for about 73 percent of ticket reservations and roughly 45 percent of total admissions.
Many viewers who have already seen the film in 2D are also heading back to theaters to enjoy it in 3D.
"I've seen other 3D movies before; the glasses were uncomfortable and I felt a little dizzy, so I watched 'Avatar' in 2D. But all of my friends have seen the 3D version and said it was mind-blowing, so I'm planning on watching it in 3D", said Paik Sung-wook, a 19-year-old student.
Others are still waiting to watch it for the first time.
"I wanted to watch 'Avatar' at an IMAX theater but weekend screenings have been sold out for the past several weeks. I'm still waiting", said Lee Rita, a 29-year-old researcher. "But now that a 4D version is coming out maybe I should wait a little longer".
아바타 최고 매출 외국 영화돼
한국사람 5명 중 한 사람이 "아바타"를 보았다.
20세기 폭스 한국에 따르면 이 음란 외화는 한국을 강타 토요일 외화로서는 처음으로 1,000 만 관객을 넘었다.
더욱이 순익과 3D 영화의 저변을 넓힌다는 면에서 "혁명"을 가져왔다.
1월 22일 현재 입장료 수익 872억원 아바타는 이제 한국에서 최고 수익을 올리는 영화가 됐으며 극장에서는 폭증하는 상영 요구에 맞춰 3D 스크린을 더 많이 설치하고 있다.
얼마 안 있으면 1000억의 매출을 올리는 최초의 영화가 될 것이다.
배급업자는 "괴물"이 올렸던 관객 수를 능가하기 어려울지도 모른다. 그러나 1200만 관객에 1000억원 매출을 올릴 것으로 추산된다"고 말했다.