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Success of 'Haeunda' Invigorates Korean Film Industry

2009/08/28 Source

The massive popularity of the disaster movie "Haeundae", which has drawn more than 10 million viewers so far, has ramifications that reach beyond the film's producers and investors. After falling into a rut since the success of the monster film "The Host" three years ago, the Korean movie industry has finally scored another unequivocal hit. The industry believes that the success of "Haeundae" also shows that the solid box office performances of "Speedy Scandal" (8.3 million viewers) and "My Girlfriend is an Agent" (4.04 million viewers) were not temporary phenomena.

The opening day box-office numbers of "Haeundae" were not impressive, but on the first weekend following its release 1.24 million people flocked to see it, leading to projections that it would break the 10-million milestone. That is the second-largest first weekend for a Korean movie, trailing only "The Host", which scored 1.28 million viewers. Another Korean film, "Taegukgi: The Brotherhood of War", which closely resembles "Haeundae" in terms of daily and weekly viewer numbers, drew only 870,000 spectators on its first weekend.

As of Tuesday, 10.228 million people have watched "Haeundae", making it the fifth Korean movie to break the 10-million mark. It crested the milestone on Sunday, just 33 days after it opened. Only "The Host" reached 10 million faster, doing so in 21 days. At this rate, there are expectations that "Haeundae" could become the third most-viewed Korean movie ever, displacing "Taegukgi: The Brotherhood of War" which drew 11.74 million spectators.

◆ How Viewers Are Counted

It was the movie's distributor CJ Entertainment, using its own figures, which said that "Haeundae" had topped 10 million viewers in 33 days. When the news was announced Monday, a tabulation by the Korean Film Council based on its database showed "Haeundae" had drawn only 9.91 million spectators. The discrepancy stems from differences in the tabulation systems used, but after revisions are made the margin narrows to an insignificant level.

CJ Entertainment figures viewer numbers from data collected through the computerized systems of subsidiaries CGV and Primus. Viewer numbers at other theaters nationwide are compiled by another company specializing in box office tallies and those figures are updated every day and passed on to CJ.

The KFC counts viewers in real time based on ticket sales for 2,144 screens at 315 theaters across the country. Its comprehensive database receives viewer data each time a ticket is sold. The council claims that 98 to 99 percent of theaters with computerized systems are linked to its database. When small theaters that do not have computerized systems and theaters that have not joined the database are excluded, then 87 to 89 percent of Korea's theaters are covered in the KFC's tabulations.

◆ How Much Did "Haeundae" Earn

"Haeundae" has generated around W70 billion (US$1=W1,249) in revenue. Theaters, investors and producers split the proceeds, so W35 billion goes to theaters, with the movie's investors and producers dividing the remaining W35 billion. But the net profit the investors and producers can really grab is W19 billion since the movie cost W16 billion to make.

The biggest winner will be CJ Entertainment since it is not only in charge of distribution but also the film's major investor and co-producer. CJ Entertainment is Korea's largest movie investor and distributor, yet none of its films had topped the 10-million mark until "Haeundae".

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