Thesummer season has produced some unexpected heavyweights at the South Koreanbox-office. Following a year in whichlocal titles My Sassy Girl ($24m) and Kick The Moon ($21)dominated theatres, the strongest performer has been Steven Spielberg's MinorityReport, remaining atop thebox-office for five weeks after its July 26 release and earning over $17m.
BuenaVista, despite lower-than-expected earnings from Lilo & Stitch($1.2m) and Signs ($2.9m), has struck gold with Asian titles. Local horror movie Phone, which BVI'sbranch office financed in full for $1.6m, has become the second-highestgrossing film of the summer, earning $11.8m to date. The first Korean film everto be fully financed by a Hollywood studio, Phone tells the story of ajournalist who is assigned a phone number once owned by a vengeful ghost. BVI also distributed animated feature SpiritedAway, which became the highest-grossing Japanese film ever released inKorea with $10.5m.
Althoughin recent years Korea has been a tough market for Southeast Asian cinema, HongKong-Thai horror title The Eye has earned $2.3m to date after seeing admissions rise 17% in itssecond week. Despite its arthouseleanings, Lee Chang-dong's Oasis has also outperformed expectations, landingat number one at the box-office in its third week after only a 5% drop from theprevious weekend. To date the Venice contender has earned $3.2m.
Althoughdetailed figures are not yet available, total box-office revenues for thesummer seem to have replicated that of last year, while providing a more evendistribution of hits. Perhaps in partdue to an increased number of distributors in the market, screen time was moreevenly divided than in 2001. Last yearthe top four films occupied an average of 71% of available screens each week,while in 2002 this number fell to 63%.
Korean Box-Office, Jun 29 - Sept 1, 2002 (nationwide figures)
Minority Report (US), 20th Fox $17.3m*
Phone (S Korea), BVI $11.8m*
MIB II (US), Col Tristar $10.9m
Spirited Away (Japan), BVI $10.5m
Champion (S Korea), Korea Pictures $9.8m
Star Wars: Episode 2 (US), 20th Fox $7.2m
Break Out (S Korea), Cinema Service $7.0m
Stuart Little 2 (US), Col Tristar $3.9m
Ice Age (US), 20thFox $ 3.5m
Oasis (S Korea), CJ Entertainment $3.2m*