Korean Film Industry Report in the First Half of 2010
By KOFIC Korean Film Research Center
In the first half of 2010 the total number of the audience was slightly decreased, while the total sales amount was skyrocketed compared to the same period of last year. The total number of the audience from Jan. to Jun. this year was 69, 447, 438 and the total amount of sales turned out 547. 2 billion won in the period. While the number of the audience was down 3.9%(2.83 million) compared to that of last year, the total sales amount soared 14.6% with 547.2 billion won compared to 476. 8 billion won in last year.
The main reason that the total sales amount soared, despite the declined number of the audience, seems to be the raised ticket price since july 2009 and the diversified ticket prices currently led by Hollywood 3D films like Avatar. The average ticket price increased from 6,600 won in last year to 7,880 won this year, but mostly Hollywood movies took advantage of the raised ticket price. And a mega hit movie, Avatar, proved that the audience is willing to pay more to watch a 3D movie. Thus, if 3D movies, will be continued on.
In the first half of 2010 foreign films were dominant in the marketplace. The total number of audience for foreign films was down with 1.2% compared to that of last year, but the final market share was 56.9% with 9.6 million admissions more than that of Korean films which was down with 7.3% compared to last year. As the final rate of the market share turned out to 40%: 60% (Korean films: foreign films), it showed clearly that foreign films were dominant in the market.
BOX OFFICE RESULTS
One of the characteristics of the first half of 2010 is featured that a few films have been long dominating at the box office so that 3 films, Avatar, Secret Reunion and Titan have stayed at the top of the box office for more than 3 weeks. The total number of the films which took the top was 14 films. Compared to the first half of 2009 that 20 films were ranked at the top, it showed that this year’s box office has been dominated by a few successful films.
Above all, Hollywood movies have been overwhelming in the first half of 2010. While Hollywood movies stormed the box office such as Avatar in January, Alice in Wonderland in March, Titan in April and Ironman 2 in May, Korean films took the top only 9 weeks in total. In the first half of 2009 Korean films were at the top for 15 weeks in total. Nevertheless, the fact that the declined number of Korean films at the top of the box office doesn’t imply the recession of the Korean film industry because a number of Korean films successfully survived long at the box office with, what is so called, the second position strategy. While Avatar staying at the top, a Korean movie, WOOCHI, drew more than 6 million admissions and Harmony and Secret Reunion both drew about 3million admissions. In case of Bestseller, the film ranked at the second after Titan in the first week but took the top in the second week while having no competitors at the box office.
MARKET SHARE BY COUNTRY
In the first half of 2009 the market share of non-Hollywood foreign films was up to 10.3% with success of Red Cliff (China) and Slumdog Millionaire (UK) but this year’s market share of foreign films excluding Korean and American films was 4.3%.
As a measure of the cultural diversity of a nation, screening diverse films from various countries will help the health of the cinematic culture. So the current low share of non-Hollywood film in the Korean market shows that the audience’s decision is still under the influence of Korean films and Hollywood films accompanied by a massive marketing promotion.
MARKET SHARE OF DISTRIBUTOR
The honor of the number one distributor in the first half of 2010 went to CJ Entertainment. The market share of CJ Entertainment was increasing 2.3% with 970,000 admissions more compared to that of last year. Distributing 27 films in the first half, CJ Entertainment drew 18.98 million admissions in nationwide with Korean films, WOOCHI, Harmony and The Servant and DreamWorks lineups Ironman 2 and How to Train Your Dragon.
The market share of CJ Entertainment in the first half of 2010 reached 27.3% and when it comes to Korean films, 13 Korean film distributed by CJ Entertainment drew 10.34 million admissions and accounted for more than one third (34.8%) of the total number of admissions.
20 Century Fox Korea ranked the second with Avatar, Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief and Knight and Day with 17.6% of market share and 12.21 million admissions. Showbox/MediaPlex ranked the third with 5 films including Secret Reunion, and Lotte Entertainment ranked the fourth with 71-Into the Fire and Robbery. By the way, Showbox/Mediaplex and Lotte Entertainment didn’t do well this year. Compared to the same period of last year, the number of films distributed and the total number of admissions of Showbox/Mediaplex was cut down by half.
Although the number of films distributed is similar to that of last year (12 films in this year and 13 films in last year), the total number of admissions Lotte Entertainment drew this year was only 5.83 million, which was not even close to the half of last year’s result, 14.75 million admissions. Nevertheless, because one mega hit film can change the final box office result, both companies are expected to do well in the second half with highly anticipated lineups.
TOP 10 BOX OFFICE FILMS
Not surprisingly, Avatar was at the top on the list. Besides 5.11 million admissions in last year, the film drew 8.14 million admissions in 2010 and broke the record of The Host (13.01 million admissions) only to be the most hit film in the Korean film industry. In addition, taking advantage of the raised ticket price for 3D film, the total sales amount also broke the record with 81.4 billion won. If the director’s version releases in September as expected, breaking the record will be continued on.
A Korean film Secret Reunion was at the second on the list. The film stayed at the top during February and drew 5.41 million admissions. Starring on both Secret Reunion and WOOCHI which ranked at the fourth, an actor GANG Dong-won became a blue chip leading the Korean box office. 5 Korean films put their titles on the top 10 list including Harmony (3.01 million admissions), The Servant (2.68 million admissions) and The Housemaid (2.26 million admissions). Above all, the fact that 5 films out of top 10 lists (3 Korean films and 2 American films) have been distributed by CJ Entertainment should be noteworthy.
The bottom line to be on the top 10 list was up to about 2.14 million admissions compared to about 2.03 million admissions in last year. There was only one film each in the range of 8 million admissions, 5 million admissions and 4 million admissions. There were 2 films in the range of 3 million admissions and the rest of the films on the list belonged to the range of 2 million admissions so that the size of the result of top 10 films was distributed unevenly.
One of the current trends of the Korean films on the list was “reinterpretation of an original story”. Because WOOCHI, The Servant and The Housemaid successfully appealed the contemporary audience by twisting an original story, this trend is expected to continue on to draw the audience. The success of foreign films on the list such as Titan and Alice in Wonderland can be analyzed in the same context.
While Harmony showed a new possibility in the marketplace by drawing 3 million admissions, mostly female audiences, without the star marketing, The Servant and The Housemaid proved that the sexual marketing strategy is still in valid in the marketplace. However, like The Housemaid which fully took advantage of Cannes film festival promotion, both films successfully appealed the audience not only with a sensational approach but also with a good quality of the film itself.
And, as 4 films out of 5 Hollywood films on the list were screened with a 3D version together, it is expected that screening in 3D version will determine the success of a blockbuster film.