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Korea Cinema Sets Box Office and Admissions Records in 2015

South Korea set a new cinema admissions record for the fifth consecutive year as local films claimed a majority of the box office.

Some 217 million tickets were sold in the year, up from 215 million in 2014. Korean-made titles accounted for 113 million, the fourth year in a row that they have exceeded 100 million ticket sales. That gave Korean films a 52% share, according to Korean Film Council’s KOBIS box office data service.

In revenue terms the picture was more complicated. Overall box office edged ahead by 3% in local currency terms from KRW 1.66 trillion to KRW 1.72 trillion. Due the weakening of the Korean Won, that represented a 5.3% drop in dollar terms, from $1.52 billion to $1.44 billion in 2015.

In local currency terms Korean films regained the majority share, which they had lost in 2014. Foreign films saw a 3% dip in ticket sales (from 107 million admissions in 2014 to 104 million in 2015). That caused a minor 1% decrease in their box office gross to KRW 836 billion ($702 million).

Korean films accounted for six of the top ten chart places, with “Veteran,” “Assassination,” and December 2014 release “Ode to My Father” surpassing the 10 million admissions mark. “Ode” and “Veteran” beat 2009’s “Avatar” and became the second and third largest films of all time in terms of ticket sales.

High-profile, performance-driven films “The Throne” and “Inside Men” claimed fourth and fifth places, though the number of mid-sized hits decreased.

“The Avengers: Age of Ultron,” in third place, was the top foreign movie of the year, and the only one to achieve 10 million admissions. “Kingsman: The Secret Service,” “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation” and “Jurassic World”, also made the top ten.

The number of films that enjoyed theatrical releases grew 10% from an already high 1,095 in 2014 to a record 1,199 in 2015. Local films on release increased from 217 to 256. Foreign films increased from 878 to 943.

Among distributors, CJ Entertainment held on to its usual top place with a 22% market share, despite losing its sub-distribution arrangement with Paramount, ahead of Showbox on 17% (in the first 11 months.) Walt Disney Korea took third spot with 11%, earned from just seven releases.

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