Korea Box Office Weekend Quiet Ahead of Chuseok Holiday

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New titles arrived in Korean theaters in time for the Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving) holiday period, headed by locally-made thriller “On The Line,” which took top place from “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.” But box office over the weekend preceding the big break remained subdued, totaling just $6.16 million.

“On The Line” earned $2.16 million from 1,294 screens between Friday and Sunday and accounted for 35.1% of nationwide box office, according to data from the Korean Film Council’s Kobis tracking service. Over the five days since its Wednesday release, it has built up a total of $2.94 million.

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“Shang-Chi” took $1.11 million in its third week of release, for a total of $12.4 million since its Sept. 1 outing.

“Miracle: Letters to the President,” a heart-warming drama, earned $991,000 for third place between Friday and Sunday. Since Wednesday, it has accumulated $1.46 million. It played on 1,196 screens and its per screen average over the weekend was barely half that of “On The Line.”

Recent data for August showed that 7.91 million tickets were sold last month, giving a gross box office of $64.9 million. Some 76% of that went to Korean titles, headed by “Escape to Mogadishu,” the first month in which local films have prevailed over imports. The monthly total was a fraction down on the $65.5 million score on August 2020.

Two other new releases achieved top five places over the most recent weekend. “Pokemon the Movie: Secrets of the Jungle” achieved $482,000 between Friday and Sunday and $610,000 over five days. Another Japanese animation, “Crayon Shin-chan: Scribble Kingdom and Almost Four Heroes” took $331,000 over the weekend and $384,000 over five days.

In a further sign that the Korean box office has not yet returned to normal, the composition of the weekend top ten was unusual. It included four recently-released Korean films, two recently-released Japanese films, two recently-released U.S. titles and re-releases of “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” and Japanese animation “Your Name.”

The next three days of public holiday (Sept 20-22) will show whether the public appetite for in-cinema viewing has returned.

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