SEOUL, Aug. 20 (Korea Bizwire) — The number of moviegoers edged down this summer from a year ago, but Korean cinemas earned much more thanks to higher admission prices and the growing popularity of more expensive formats, data showed Monday.
Korean cinemas sold a total of 34.43 million tickets during the peak summer season from July 19 to Aug. 19, slightly down from 34.83 million a year ago, the Korean Film Council said in a monthly report.
Their sales, however, increased by 10 billion won (US$8.9 million) to 286.5 billion won mainly due to raised admission prices and increased demand for 4DX and IMAX formats, whose ticket prices are more expensive than 2D versions.
The report also showed that Korean films accounted for 58 percent of all tickets sold in local theaters, slightly down from last year’s 62 percent during the same period.
“Along With the Gods: The Last 49 Days” took about one-third of the summer box office sales by drawing over 11.3 million people.
“The Spy Gone North” is expected to soon pass its break-even point of 4.8 million admissions as it already surpassed 4 million on Sunday.
“The Witness,” the latest release in the summer box-office race, will likely reach its break-even point of 1.84 million admissions in a few days.
But top director Kim Jee-woon’s sci-fi action “Illang: The Wolf Brigade,” which was one of the most-anticipated films of this summer, was pulled from screens after gathering only 900,000 views amid unfavorable reviews.
“The attention of local audiences this summer seems to have been paid to films giving such warm messages of compassion and humanism,” said Kang Dong-young, head of the communications team of Lotte Cultureworks, which runs Lotte Cinema, one of the largest multiplex cinema chains in Korea. “We can see this from the fact that (these films) — ‘Along With the Gods: The Last 49 Days,’ with the underlying message of forgiveness and redemption; ‘The Spy Gone North,’ featuring a connection beyond ideology; and ‘The Witness,’ which portrays the anxiety of an ordinary city dweller — were loved one after another.”
Hollywood franchise films were also a strong presence in the summer box office, with “Mission: Impossible – Fallout” becoming the second most-watched film of this summer by gathering 6.43 million views.
Other American films that achieved moderate success were the animation “Incredibles 2″ (3.02 million); “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again,” the sequel to 2008′s all-ABBA jukebox musical “Mamma Mia!” (1.58 million); and the animated film “Hotel Transylvania 3: Monster Vacation” (900,000).