Teenagers are back as a major influence on the box office success or failure of movies in Korea.
"Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum" topped the box office for two weeks in a row, attracting 2.3 million viewers as of Monday and becoming the second most successful Korean horror movie after "A Tale of Two Sisters" in 2003.
It is a result that very few had expected, but the main audience were young people in their teens and 20s. They made up 72.7 percent of viewers on the day of its release, 15.4 percent of them being teenagers.
In March last year, only 1.9 percent of cinema tickets were reserved by teenagers, and the received wisdom was that they had turned wholly to online entertainment.
So what is it about "Gonjiam" that made teens come out in droves? Lee Koo-seong from film distributor Showbox said, "We believe it was words of mouth and social media that helped 'Gonjiam' become a hit with teens".
"Along With the Gods: The Two Worlds", which lured 14 million viewers last year, was also popular among teens. Cinema chain CGV said it was viewed by more teens and more people in their 40s than any other movie released around the same time.
"In order to understand movie reservation rate by teens, we should also look at the booking rate by those in their 40s, as many parents tend to make bookings for their children", said the chain.
YouTube is said to be the most influential channel sending teens to movie theaters. Back in November last year, Wiseapp, which analyses mobile app usage, found that teens search five times more on YouTube than on Naver, Korea's largest portal site.
"A famous YouTuber talked a lot about 'Gonjiam' before the film got released, which is one reason why so many teens were looking forward to watching it as soon as it came out", Showbox said.
Older groups, by contrast, choose what film to watch based on reservation rate and ratings on portal sites. Teens tend to go to the cinema in groups. "Adults are mostly likely to come in pairs, but for films favored by teens, 30 percent of viewers are often groups of three people or more", said the chain.
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