Korea Box Office: “Morbius” Dominates With $2.5 Million Five-Day Total

Six new films were released in South Korea in the past week, including Sony’s Marvel franchise Morbius, but none have eased the current malaise plaguing the Korean cinema industry.

“Morbius” was released on Wednesday and expired at more than half of the nationwide deal, according to data from Kobis, the Korean Film Council’s (Kofic) tracking service. The film earned $1.71 million over the weekend from Friday through Sunday with a 58% market share it received from nearly 1,700 screens. In the five days since it opened, $2.48 million has been managed.

Last week’s top title, Korean-produced “Hot Blooded,” earned $420,000 over its second weekend, bringing the 12-day total to $2.59 million.

Another former chart-topper, “In Our Prime,” took third place with $194,000, bringing the total to nearly $4 million since its March 9 release.

The coronavirus continues to haunt Korean society and cinema attendance appears to be among the hardest-hit sectors.

The country experienced a huge surge in COVID-19 infections in February due to the highly infectious Omicron variant. The number of new cases peaked at over 500,000 per day by March 17, 2022, but has since been declining.

On Saturday, Korea reported 234,000 new infections and preliminary figures for Sunday were 128,000 new infections. With the number of cases now waning and the death rate low, the government is poised to allow larger group gatherings from this week. Cinemas have yet to feel the benefits.

Total box office between Friday and Sunday was $2.94 million, making it the fourth straight weekend under $3 million.

Data for March showed box office and viewership below 2021 equivalents.

The box office in March was worth just KRW 27 billion (US$22.2 million), down about 10% year-on-year, with just 2.8 million monthly viewers.

The first quarter of the year saw gross box office sales of KRW 113 billion (US$92.8 million) from just 7.3 million ticket sales. Thanks to the performance of “Spider-Man: No Way Home” in January, those numbers were better than in the first quarter of 2021. But a comparison with the first three months of the pre-COVID year 2019, when Korea was still the fourth largest in the world Box office market, shows the current plight of the industry. Between January and March 2019, Korean cinemas welcomed 54 million viewers and grossed KRW 467 billion (US$384 million, using 2022 currency conversion rates). In March 2019 alone, it attracted 14.7 million viewers worth KRW 127 billion (US$104 million).

The number of new releases over the past week could indicate that traders are hoping for better things. But the current performances of the films are mostly weak.

French film Vanishing made $198,000 in five days. Pedro Almodovar’s “Parallel Mothers” made $40,000 in four days. Australian hit “The Dry” earned $32,000 in five days. And Japan’s “Signal The Movie Cold Case Investigation Unit” and Korea’s “B Cut” each earned $24,000 over five days.

“CODA,” which first hit Korean theaters in August last year, seemed to benefit little from its Oscar wins. It made $10,000 last weekend for a total profit of $501,000 over eight months.

https://variety.com/2022/film/news/korea-box-office-morbius-dominates-1235222565/ Korea Box Office: “Morbius” Dominates With $2.5 Million Five-Day Total

Charles Jones

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