South Korean cinemas bounce back with blockbusters, a silver screen revival

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South Korean cinemas have been buzzing with activity lately, experiencing a remarkable surge in attendance and ticket sales. This exciting trend comes on the heels of a slew of successful films spanning various genres, as highlighted in a recent report by the Korean Film Council (KOFIC).

In February alone, a staggering 11.46 million movie buffs flocked to theaters, marking an impressive 78.4 percent increase compared to the same period last year. This surge in attendance is even more remarkable as it represents nearly two-thirds (64.8 percent) of the pre-pandemic average recorded between 2017 and 2019.

The KOFIC report attributes this positive momentum to the overwhelming commercial success of several diverse films. Among the standout performers were the supernatural thriller “Exhuma,” the fantastical adventure “Wonka,” the heartwarming comedy-drama “Citizen of a Kind,” and the thought-provoking political documentary “The Birth of Korea.”

Korean cinema, in particular, shone brightly during this period, with “Exhuma” amassing a staggering 3.7 million viewers within just eight days of its release on February 22nd. Similarly, “Citizen of a Kind” captured the hearts of 1.04 million moviegoers in the same month.

Overall, the Korean film industry saw a total of 6.97 million admissions, a significant increase of 5.69 million from the previous year. This surge in attendance also translated into a substantial boost in sales, with combined revenues rising by 52.7 billion won to reach 66.2 billion won.

What’s more, homegrown films accounted for a dominant share of theater sales, claiming 59.8 percent of total revenues and 60.8 percent of all admissions. This marks a significant milestone, as Korean films surpassed foreign offerings for the first time in four years, dating back to 2020.

In contrast, foreign films witnessed a slight decline in performance, with ticket sales dropping to 4.49 million, down by 660,000 from the previous year. Similarly, box office revenues for foreign films dipped by 11.2 billion won, with “Wonka” standing out as the only major success story for foreign films in February.

This decline in foreign film performance can be partly attributed to the absence of major blockbusters, which were a significant draw in the same month last year.

Despite this dip in foreign film performance, the overall picture for South Korean cinemas remains incredibly bright. The industry’s resurgence in attendance and ticket sales is a testament to the enduring appeal of cinema and the diverse range of compelling stories being told on the silver screen. As audiences continue to flock to theaters, the future looks incredibly promising for South Korean cinema.

(Source: Variety | Yonhap News)

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