The South Korean box office had a weak Lunar New Year, but reached its highest weekend total of 2021. It achieved that with the help of strong hold over performances by “Soul” and “Demon Slayer The Movie: “Mugen Train” and two new release titles that entered the chart in third and fourth place.

“Soul” kept its first place and increased its weekend score by 5% to $1.84 million, in its fourth weekend of release. Since January 20, it has accumulated $13.1 million, according to data from the Korean Film Council’s Kobis tracking service.

Japanese hit “Demon Slayer” stayed in second place with $796,000 in its third weekend outing. Since January 27, it has earned $5.33 million.

The strongest fresh release of the session was Korean romantic comedy “New Year Blues” which pulled in $728,000 and has a cumulative total of $1.1 million. The story of four couples over one fateful weekend, the film is directed by Hong Ji-young and was released by Acemaker Movieworks.

Paul W.S. Anderson’s “Monster Hunter” opened in fourth spot with $476,000 over the weekend and a five day cumulative of $725,000.

These all helped the nationwide box office to a Lunar New Year and Valentine’s Day weekend total of $4.70 million. That is a long way from usual at the normally Lunar New Year season – KOFIC says it was just one seventh of last year’s score, when 4.75 million spectators thronged cinemas – and several film releases were postponed. But on the current track February looks certain to be a stronger month than January.

Demonstrating that things still have a long way to go before releases and audience behavior fall back into a familiar pattern, fifth place over the weekend belonged to the rerelease of “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.” It scored $167,000 and captured nearly 4% of the market.

Progress could be helped from today, when some of the virus restrictions are reduced. The 9pm curfew is to be relaxed and is expected to help evening cinema attendances as the restrictions made it hard for many people to catch a movie after dinner and still get home in time. Also, seating capacity is to be allowed to increase from a recent 50% to 70%.