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Korea Box Office Flat in 2017 as Audience Structure Changes  

Changing audience structure may be a prime factor as cinema-going in South Korea hit a plateau last year. The country is the sixth largest box office territory, on a par with France.

Korean box office in 2017 was an almost unchanged $1.46 billion (KRW1.76). Some 220 million tickets were sold in 2017, up by 3 million, compared to 2016.

“Audiences aged between 30 and 34, dropped to just 14% of visitors, from 15% in 2016, while teenagers fell from 4.3% to 2017’s 2.8%,” said Lee Seung-won, head of research at leading exhibition chain CJ-CGV. “Audiences in their fifties are growing, but do not compensate for declines in the traditional core group.”

While market share for Korean films was 52%, down from 54% in 2016, local title “A Taxi Driver” and December release “Along With the Gods” both passed the blockbuster marker of 10 million admissions. Audiences were able to choose from 487 new titles on release (up from 337 in 2016) and a massive 1,688 total including older titles. But narrowing genres may present a problem.

“Crime dramas accounted for 55% of the top twenty local films this year, up from 30%,” said Lee. “Audiences are growing bored.” Lack of female characters was recurring theme. Top ten titles “Taxi Driver,” “Gods,” “Confidential Assignment,” “The Outlaws,” “The Battleship Island,” “Midnight Runners” and “The King” scarcely found any place for meaningful female performances.

“Spider-Man Homecoming,” in fourth place, was the top foreign movie of the year. “Beauty and the Beast” and “Kingsman: The Golden Circle” were the only others in the top ten.

Traditionally the top distributor, CJ Entertainment held an unchanged 16% share, with a total of 22 releases in the first 11 months. Showbox (11% from 7 titles) and UPI (10% from 21 releases) took the following places, relegating Disney to fourth.

Lotte Entertainment’s “Along with the Gods: The Two Worlds,” the first part of a two-part fantasy, ruled the charts over the New Year weekend. It earned $26.6 million between Friday and Monday for a total of $71.6 million after two weekends on release. The second part will release in summer, 2018.

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