The theatrical cinema market in South Korea is just about strong enough to sustain a trickle of new release titles, but its continuing weakness points to growing problems in store. Ticket prices are set to be raised to help ease operators’ losses.
New-release crime drama, “Voice of Silence” topped the Korean box office with a quiet $1.47 million score over the weekend, according to data from the Korean Film Council’s KOBIS system. With that lowly score, “Silence” accounted for 45% of the $3.04 million nationwide weekend aggregate.
Released by NEW on Thursday, for a cumulative total is $1.73 million, the film features two men whose job is to clean up crime scenes. The story develops a growing friendship between one of the men who cannot speak and a kidnapped girl who is left in their charge.
“Voice” eased aside “Pawn” which had topped the chart for the two previous weekends, including the busy Chuseok (Korean thanksgiving) weekend. “Pawn, a drama in which a young girl is used as loan collateral, ” grossed $896,000 in its third weekend and now has a cumulative of $11.0 million, making it the eleventh best performing film of the year in Korea.
In third place, but a long way back, “Tenet” collected $179,000 over the weekend. That lifts its total to $15.4 million. Its endurance makes it the fifth best performing film of the year in Korean movie theaters, and one of only two Hollywood films to appear in the year-to-date top ten. The other, “Dolittle” ranks eighth with a $11.8 total.
The 70% slump in box office this year is increasing pressure on exhibitors. Over the weekend, the country’s leading cinema chain CJ-CGV said that it will be introducing ticket price increases from Oct. 26. It will hike prices by KRW1,000-2,000 ($0.87-$1.74), making popular weekend seats cost as much as KRW13,000 ($11.4).
“Price increases are inevitable as spending on rent, management and hiring is growing each year, while suffering a significant drop in revenue and spending additional money on COVID-19 related disinfection efforts,” a spokesman CGV said.
The country reported 76 new coronavirus on Monday, lifting the total to date to 25,275. The virus alert status has been reduced to the lowest level after the Chuseok holidays failed to set off another wave of infections. South Korea has suffered 444 deaths in total.