[PICK] Korean Summer Box Office Issues Over the Years

Edited by Hwang Hong Sun
Translated by Kim Hoyeun


2006 �” First Movie to Attract 10 Million Moviegoers


The first movie to draw 10 million moviegoers came out. It’s The Host, in which director Bong Joon Ho and actor Song Kang Ho joined hands again after Memories of Murder. As it received positive reviews at the Cannes Film Festival, it successfully attracted audiences as expected and topped the box office in the summer and became the number one box office hit in 2016.


2007 �” Debate over ‘D-War’


The summer of 2007 was hot with controversy. Director Shim Hyung Rae’s D-War sparked controversy over patriotism marketing and its disappointing level of completion. Despite negative issues, the movie topped the summer box office and the 2008 box office.


2009 �” Double Box Office Hits

Credit: CJ Entertainment

Haeundae and Take Off, which caused concerns at first, turned the game around and became a box office hits. Even before its release, Haeundae has been rumored to be pretty bad, but it became the second movie to attract 10 million moviegoers during the summer season since The Host. Take Off, which started a bit rocky, eventually drew 8.48 moviegoers, drawing attention.


2011 – Unexpected Failure and Success

Credit: Lotte Entertainment

In the summer of 2011, the box office failure of Sector 7 and the surprising success of War of the Arrows stood out. Though it was expected to receive great results, Sector 7 became a box-office flop with its mediocre results. Rather, relatively less-interested War of the Arrows received favorable reviews, becoming a box office hit that summer.


2012 – ‘The Thieves’ Beat Out Superheroes


The Thieves, which boasts its luxurious cast, beat out The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises and became the number one box office hit that summer. In addition, Cha Tae Hyun’s comedy film The Grand Heist and Korean-style disaster film Deranged received solid results.


2013 �” Win-Win for Both David and Goliath

Credit: Lotte Entertainment

Director Bong Joon Ho’s global project Snowpiercer, which had a budget of 40 billion KRW (about 33,564,228 USD), and Ha Jung Woo’s The Terror Live, which only had a budget of 4 billion KRW (about 3,356,422 USD), were released with just one day apart, and drew 9.34 million and 5.58 million moviegoers, respectively. No one would have expected that The Terror Live would perform so well against Snowpiercer.


2014 – All-Time Box Office Hit

Credit: CJ Entertainment

The battle over the 2014 summer box office was fierce. From SHOWBOX’s KUNDO: Age of the Rampant, to CJ’s Roaring Currents, Lotte’s The Pirates, and NEW’s Haemoo, the top four Korean film distributors released their best works side by side. The final winner was Roaring Currents, which became the new number one Korean box office hit movie. Even till now, it maintains its top spot of 17.61 moviegoers.


2015 �” Triple 10 Million Movies

Credit: CJ Entertainment

In the summer of 2015 alone, not one but three movies attracted 10 million moviegoers. Assassination and Veteran, which was released with a week interval, both attracted 10 million moviegoers. In particular, Assassination director Choi Dong Hoon drew much attention as he made back-to-back hits following The Thieves. Meanwhile, Avengers: Age of Ultron became the first foreign film to garner 10 million moviegoers in the summer season.


2016 �” Big Four Show Great Results

Credit: NEW

In the summer of 2016, all four major distributors unveiled their movies side by side once again. Each of NEW’s Train to Busan, CJ’s Operation Chromite, SHOWBOX’s Tunnel, and Lotte’s The Last Princess presented their unique subjects and genre, receiving excellent reviews.


2017 �” Controversy over Monopolistic Structure


Director Ryu Seung Wan’s The Battleship Island, which drew much attention from the production stage, failed to break the break-even point (6.6 million moviegoers) due to the spread of negative issues, including patriotism marketing, poor historical research, and controversy over its monopolistic system. On the other hand, A Taxi Driver, based on a touching true story, steadily gained popularity and became a 10 million movie, while Midnight Runners, starring Park Seo Joon and Kang Ha Neul, received solid results.


2018 �” First Movie Series to Attract 10 Million Moviegoers

Credit: Lotte Entertainment

In the summer of 2018, Along with the Gods: The Last 49 Days, the sequel to Along With the Gods: The Two Worlds, was released in about eight months since the prequel was released, and attracted 12.27 million moviegoers. With this, Along with the Gods series became the first Korean movie series to draw 10 million moviegoers with both its movies. On the other hand, Illang: The Wolf Brigade, a live-action Japanese animation of the same name, failed to exceed 1 million moviegoers amid harsh reviews.

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