Korea Box Office: ‘Ashfall’ Volcano Disaster Movie Dominates Weekend

Ha Jung Woo and Lee Byung
Courtesy of CJ Entertainment

Two locally-made new releases, “Ashfall” and “Start-up” topped the weekend box office in South Korea, beating “Frozen 2.” (Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker releases in Korea on Jan. 8, 2020).

Opening on Thursday, CJ Entertainment’s “Ashfall” debuted on top of the box office. The volcano action drama earned $18.2 million from 2.46 million admissions between Thursday and Sunday, including $15.13 million earned over the weekend. It accounted for 56% of the country’s total weekend box office.

Produced by “Along with the Gods” franchise director Kim Yong-hwa, “Ashfall” is co-directed by Lee Hae-jun (“Like a Virgin”) and cinematographer-turned-director Kim Byeong-seo. Starring some of South Korea’s top actors such as Lee Byung-hun, Ha Jung-woo and Don Lee, the disaster film follows the unexpected eruption of Korea’s tallest volcano, Baekdusan that straddles the border between China and North Korea, and plunges the Korean peninsula into chaos.

Wednesday opener, “Start-up” landed in second. The Next Entertainment World release earned $8.3 million over five days, including $5.45 million earned over the weekend. Based on a web cartoon of the same name, the drama revolves around two young friends who get shady jobs and experience life’s unexpected turns. Directed by Choi Jeong-yeol (“One way Trip”), “Start-up” stars Don Lee along with rising star actors Park Jung-min (“Svaha : The Sixth Finger”) and Jung Hae-in (“Tune in for Love”).

“Frozen 2” slipped to third place after topping the chart for five weekends. The Walt Disney release earned $2.59 million for a five-weekend total of $91.4 million.

Korean animation, “The Haunted House: The Sky Ghost VS Jormungandr” opened on Thursday and took fourth place. The CJ ENM release earned $2.17 million over opening four days.

Disney’s “Ford v Ferrari” added $593,000 for a total of $8.06 million after three weekends. Incurring a steep drop of 89% in its second weekend, “Jumanji” earned $492,000 for $7.35 million after two weekends. “Knives Out” earned $298,000 for a three-weekend total of $4.07 million.