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Local Films Fill Top Four Korea Box Office Places at COVID-Struck Weekend

Guimoon: The Lightless Door
Dawa Hong(sunghee)

Hostage: Missing Celebrity” held on to top spot at the South Korean box office as new release “Guimoon: The Lightless Door” gave local films the top four chart places over the weekend. But business is being held back by new health measures in the Greater Seoul area that were reintroduced last week.

“Hostage,” starring Hwang Jung-min, was a comfortable winner with a 38% market share, ahead of another holdover “Sinkhole” with 24%, according to data from the Kobis data service operated by the Korean Film Council.

“Hostage” earned $2.48 million on its second weekend of release, down 38% from its debut. Since its Aug. 18. launch it has accumulated $9.59 million.

“Sinkhole” earned $1.55 million on its third weekend. Since its Aug. 11 start in cinemas, it has built a cumulative total of $16.7 million.

Escape From Mogadishu” held on to third place with a 20% market share and a $1.37 million weekend haul. Since its July 28 debut in Korean theaters it has amassed $25.1 million. That makes it the second highest grossing film of the year behind “Black Widow.” In terms of spectators and ticket sales, however, “Mogadishu” is now the most watched movie of the year in Korea, with 3.07 million spectators.

In terms of year-to-date aggregates, “Sinkhole” is now the sixth ranking film of 2021 in Korea. “Hostage” is already up to eighth place.

“Guimoon” scared up fourth place over the weekend with a $330,000 score earned from 692 screens. In the five days since its Aug. 25 release, it has earned $536,000. It is the story of a professor and some of his students who enter a closed down training center where a number of mysterious deaths previously occurred. The film was distributed by CJ Entertainment and benefited from some presentations in 4DX (moving chairs and atmospheric effects) and ScreenX (which makes use of a cinema’s side walls for a 270 degree show).

“Free Guy” held on to fifth place and was the top-scoring foreign title of the weekend, with $209,000. Since its Aug. 11 debut, it has accumulated $2.54 million.

While the return to chart dominance for so many local films is a fillip for the Korean production sector, the weekend was one of the weakest of the summer. Aggregate national box office was $6.68 million, compared with $9.82 million a week earlier. The downturn reflected the re-imposition of new social distancing measures intended to limit the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.