Korea Box Office Stages Tentative Recovery as Cinema Restrictions Ease

Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore” topped the box office in South Korea over the May Day weekend, beating a handful of minor local titles which released in hope of catching a rising market.

The latest Friday-Sunday period appeared to represent a turning point – a $4.86 million nationwide aggregate was the biggest weekend haul since January – but a slow and uncertain one.

Theatrical box office in Korea has been severely depressed all year due to government-imposed COVID restrictions, audience caution and a paucity of new release local titles. Restrictions in cinemas are now being removed and locally-produced films are dusting off their release plans. But to remains to be seen how much long-term structural damage has been done to the film industry in Korea. A spokesman for cinema chain CJ-CGV told local media that removing restrictions on consumption of food and drink in cinemas has had an immediate, positive effect on ticket sales.

Over its third weekend of release, “The Secrets of Dumbledore” earned $1.55 million, down only 5% on its previous weekend session. After 19 days on release, it has accumulated $8.77 million, making it the third biggest film of the year, behind only (2021-released) “Spider-Man: No Way Home” and Korea’s “The Pirates: The Last Royal Treasure.”

In second place over the latest weekend was “I Want to Know Your Parents” which achieved $1.30 million, for a five-day opening of $1.69 million.

Korean “Urban Myths” earned $351,000 over the weekend for third place, enough for a five-day score of $450,000.

K-pop concert film, “Seventeen Power of Love: The Movie” ranked fourth in revenue terms, scooping $264,000 from close to 17,000 premium-priced ticket sales. (Korean charts show a film’s rank by spectator numbers, by which measure “Seventeen” ranked seventh over the weekend.)

Korean drama film “Toxic” earned $244,000 in fifth place, advancing its 12-day cumulative to $1.07 million.

U.S. animation “The Bad Guys” slipped into the chart in tenth place from previews alone. It has now earned $126,000 ahead of its May 4, 2022, official outing. It is likely to beaten in the coming days by “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” which has clocked up record-breaking ticket pre-sales ahead of its release on Wednesday.

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