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Movie sequels take over Korean box office
  • August 04, 2022 | Broadcasting

Movie sequels take over
Korean box office

Updated : 2022-08-03 08:41


By Kwak Yeon-soo

Some movie theaters are starting to show more signs of life, with one of the major trends at Korea's box offices being a lot of sequels to major action franchises, including "The Roundup," "Top Gun: Maverick" and "Hansan: Rising Dragon."

Also, the easing of social distancing measures that limited the size of private gatherings and the operating hours of multi-use facilities in mid-April, helped major movie theaters see higher ticket sales for the May and June periods.

According to a report from the Korean Film Council, the total number of ticket sales for the first half of this year was 452.9 billion won ($345.7 million), 48.7 percent of the same period in 2019. Compared to the first six months of 2021, ticket sales have increased by 143 percent.

Most box office hits in the first half of this year were sequels in well-known franchises. In fact, eight out of 10 highest-grossing films at Korea's box offices in 2022 fell into these categories. Movie reboots and sequels are not very original but are thought to be safe bets and cash cows for film studios, according to experts.

Action comedy "The Roundup," a sequel to the 2017 hit, "The Outlaws," became the biggest hit film in 2022 to date, surpassing 12 million in attendance.

"Top Gun: Maverick," which came out 36 years after the original, "Top Gun," is putting up solid numbers in Korea, passing the 7 million viewer mark. Although new characters are introduced, Pete "Maverick" Mitchell (Tom Cruise) remains the central character.

"Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness," a direct follow-up to 2016's "Doctor Strange," ranked at No.3 by drawing 5.8 million viewers, followed by "Jurassic World: Dominion," which attracted more than 2.8 million moviegoers. It is considered the sixth and final installment in the franchise. The mystery action horror film, "The Witch: Part 2. The Other One," a sequel to "The Witch: part 1. The Subversion," exceeded 2.7 million in ticket sales.

During this first week of August, "Hansan: Rising Dragon," a follow-up to "Roaring Currents," and "Minions: The Rise of Gru," a continuation of the 2015 animated hit, "Minions," are all pulling in ticket sales.

"If you make a sequel to an original film that has established storylines and market bases, the probability of success increases. A sequel would be a win to investors and audience alike," Chang Byeng-hee, an associate professor of Journalism and Mass Communication at Sungkyunkwan University, writes in his book, "Determinants of box office performance in the film industry" (direct translation).

While these movie sequels help demonstrate that movies have the potential to match pre-pandemic box office expectations, the results indicate that other films, especially indie or arthouse films, might not be able to survive at the box office.

CJ CGV, one of three major multiplex chains in Korea, announced it will close the Myeongdong Station Cine Library in Seoul in August.

"Due to the years-long COVID-19 pandemic, we've suffered financial hardships, such as rising rents and management expenses," CGV said in a statement. "The number of moviegoers who came to see indie and arthouse films was less than expected."