A notable launch for “Minari” lifted the South Korea box office to its second highest weekend of 2021. The Korean-language American-made drama performed 80% higher than the weekend’s other significant new release Disney’s “Raya and the Last Dragon.”
Opening in first place, “Minari” clocked up $1.68 million over the weekend, according to data from the Korean Film Council’s KOBIS box office tracking service. That gave it a nearly 38% share of the national aggregate between Friday and Sunday.
Capitalizing on local press interest, especially for veteran actor Youn Yuh-jung, Korean distributor Pancinema had the Lee Isaac Chung-directed film play on 1,162 screens. It will hope to hold the wide release through anticipated awards nomination success in the U.S. over the upcoming two weeks.
Korea is the third international territory to release “Minari.” In Australia and New Zealand it remains in limited release, with a cumulative close to $1 million, and will broaden to a wide release after the March 14 Oscar nominations.
“Raya” earned $928,000 for a nearly 21% market share over the comparable weekend period. Playing on 1,056 screens, “Raya” had a notably weaker per screen average.
“Minari” was released on Wednesday and finished Sunday with a five-day cumulative of $2.22 million, earned from 277,000 admissions. Thursday-opener, “Raya” finished Sunday with a four-day total of $1.04 million from 127,000 ticket sales.
The only other title with a double-figure market share over the weekend was hit Japanese animation “Demon Slayer The Movie: Mugen Train.” It earned $802,000 and 18% of the box office, for an $8.97 million cumulative since its Jan. 27, 2021 release.
Fourth place belonged to Disney/Pixar’s “Soul” with $298,000 for the weekend. Fifth spot was occupied by Korean comedy “Mission: Possible” with $241,000.
Overall nationwide box office between Friday and Sunday was $4.44 million. That is still anemic by normal Korean standards, but represents a 25% increase on the previous weekend. The only bigger weekend of 2021 so far was the Feb. 12-14 session which spanned Lunar New Year and Valentine’s Day.