Boffo B.O. seems to be the norm in Korea.
Indeed, the country has had not one, but two record-breaking films this year: “King and the Clown,” a $4.5 million costume drama that racked up 12.3 million admissions ($83 million), and $12 million monster pic “The Host” by star director Bong Joon-ho, that eclipsed “King’s” total in only 38 days and has passed 13 million admissions ($88 million). Since 1999, six different local films have held the box office record. Is the seventh on the way?
Most of the films in production now seem unlikely to approach “The Host’s” record. The majority are modestly budgeted (meaning $3 million-$6 million), and — in contrast to “The Host” — are unlikely to gather much hype while in production.
Although in overall numbers Korea is experiencing a production boom, the recent failures of big-budgeted pics “Blue Swallow,” “Typhoon,” “Running Wild” and others have caused a dip in large-scale filming.
On the other hand, Korean auds have shown strong support for mid- or even low-budgeted films when word of mouth is strong.
Films based on true stories or a relevant social issue have been particularly effective in stirring up free publicity in the local media.
MK Pictures’ “The Bridge at No Gun Ri” is likely to fit this profile. Pic is based on a Pulitzer Prize-winning report by the Associated Press about Korean civilians shot by U.S. troops during the Korean War.
“Geunom moksori,” meanwhile, features a respected star (“Silmido’s” Sol Kyung-gu) in a true story about a famous news anchor whose son was kidnapped. From Park Jin-pyo, a rising helmer responsible for the unlikely hit “You Are My Sunshine” in 2005, “Geunom” may well emerge as a must-see work that attracts media coverage and pulls in viewers of all ages.