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South Korean box office hits record high in first half

Both local and foreign films see admission jumps in the first half of 2013.

The Korean Film Council (KOFIC) has announced South Korea’s box office hit a record high with 98.5 million admissions in the first half of the year. This is up 18.3% on the previous record for the January to June period from 2012.

Both local and foreign films hit record highs, increasing 24% and 10.7% respectively year-on-year. Local films took in 55.56 million admissions while foreign films took in 42.95 million.

Although 2012 only saw one film take more than 5 million admissions – The Avengers with 7.07 million, 2013 has already seen Miracle In Cell No. 7 clock up 12.81 million admissions, Iron Man 3 take 9 million, The Berlin File 7.17 million and Secretly Greatly 6.64 million.

Box office gross however, grew only 12.7% compared to last year. KOFIC attributes this to a significant decrease in ticket sales for 3D and the lack of attraction for audiences to pay for more expensive 3D, 4D and IMAX tickets.

Comparing The Avengers and Iron Man 3, the top foreign films from 2012 and 2013, the organization notes that 3D, 4D and IMAX screenings’ seat occupancy altogether accounted for 25.2% for The Avengers whereas it was only 15.9% for Iron Man 3.

Local films took 56.6% market share, the highest since 2006’s first half. Films like Miracle In Cell No. 7, The Berlin File, Secretly Greatly and New World contributed to this success.

The number of foreign films released in this year’s first half is up 65.6% year-on-year to 323. This is already 70.7% of the total of foreign film releases in 2012 and surpasses the 289-film total of 2011. KOFIC attributes this to growth in the exhibition sector along with releases aimed at diversified audiences, plus short-term theatrical releases aimed to boost profits in ancillary markets such as IPTV and online.

CJ E&M topped distributor rankings with 22.9% of box office gross, releasing films such as The Berlin File, The Tower, G.I. Joe 2 and Fists Of Legend.

Next Entertainment World (NEW), which was in the lead until May with films such as Miracle In Cell No. 7 and New World, was edged out when CJ released Star Trek Into Darkness in June. NEW finished the first half with 21.4% of the market, placing second.

Sony Pictures Releasing Buena Vista International Korea took 12.6% mostly on the success of Iron Man 3 and edged out Showbox/Mediaplex which took 12.5%. Lotte Entertainment rounded out the top 5 with 9.7% of market share.

South Korea’s Top 10 local and foreign films
Jan 1 – June 30

(title/country/admissions/distributor)

1. Miracle in Cell No. 7 (Korea) 12.81m, NEW

2. Iron Man 3 (US) 9m, Sony Pictures Releasing Buena Vista International Korea

3. The Berlin File (Korea) 7.17m, CJ E&M

4. Secretly Greatly (Korea) 6.64m, Showbox/Mediaplex

5. New World (Korea) 4.68m, NEW

6. Man on the Edge (Korea) 3.89m, Showbox/Mediaplex

7. World War Z (US) 3.19m, Lotte Entertainment

8. The Tower (Korea) 3.17m, CJ E&M

9. Les Miserables (US) 2.70m, Universal Pictures International Korea

10. Man of Steel (US) 2.13m, Warner Brothers Korea

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