“The Super Mario Bros Movie” and a local sports movie “Dream” gave the South Korean box office some bounce on their first weekend on release.
Opening in Korea on Wednesday, some three weeks after the beginning of its international and North American campaigns, “Super Mario” earned $4.67 million between Friday and Sunday, according to data from Kobis, the tracking service operated by the Korean Film Council (Kofic). The film has a cumulative of $5.76 million over its opening five days, plus previews.
The film’s weekend numbers are the second highest opening tally recorded by any film this year in Korea. And its weekend score represented a comfortable 40% market share.
Further near-term success may be on the cards. Monday is not an official public holiday in South Korea, but it is widely observed.
Opening in second place over the weekend was Korean sports-comedy-drama title “Dream.” It opened with $2.87 million, or 25% of the market between Friday and Sunday. It took $3.87 million over its full five-day opening period. The film depicts the triumph over adversity tale of a group of homeless people who reach a soccer championship.
“John Wick: Chapter 4,” which had held top spot for the two previous weekends, fell to third place. Its weekend score of $1.72 million was a 30% week-on-week decline and raised its total to $12.4 million after 19 days on release.
Long-playing Japanese animation film “Suzume” took fourth place over the weekend. It added another $1.03 million to its tally and expanded its chart-topping cumulative total to $39.2 million.
Korean-produced horror film “Ghost Station” took fifth place on its second weekend. Adapted from a webtoon about strange activity at a metro station, “Ghost Station” earned $402,000 over the weekend and expanded its total to $1.22 million after 12 days on release.
Japanese animation “The First Slam Dunk” earned $267,000 in sixth place, for a cumulative of $35.7 million after being on court for nearly four months.
Another sport-themed picture, Korean “Rebound” fell from third place to seventh in its fourth weekend of release. It earned $231,000 for a $4.73 million cumulative.
Korean film “Killing Romance” took $91,000 for a three-weekend cumulative of $1.22 million. Chinese period action film “Hidden Blade” opened in ninth place with $55,000 over the weekend and $106,000 over its opening five days. Another Japanese animation, “Fortune Favors Lady Nikuo” took tenth place in the weekend chart with $40,000 over five days.
Korea’s main anti-COVID measures were dropped at this point exactly a year ago. But cinemas have since struggled to regain the form that previously made South Korea the world’s fourth largest box office market. The problem has been particularly acute for local films, which previously made the market so dynamic.
The latest weekend’s $11.6 million nationwide theatrical total is the first time since January that the Korean box office has enjoyed a $10 million weekend session.
The year-to-date total of KRW343 billion ($256 million) is more than double the figure for January to April 2022, when cinemas were still operating under social distancing and disease prevention protocols. But, compared with the pre-COVID era, the market remains 40% adrift.
In the first four months of 2019 Korea had a theatrical market of KRW581 million with KRW323 million. Of that 56% of that accrued to local films.