A powerful debut for “Hansan: Rising Dragon,” a locally-made historical action film, lifted the South Korean box office to its second highest weekend of the year and helped July to be the best month of 2022.
The film is a prequel to “Roaring Currents” a tale of a heroic 14th century naval admiral that amassed some 17 million admissions in 2014 and is currently the most-watched Korean film of all time.
Data from KOBIS, the tracking service operated by the Korean Film Council (Kofic), showed that “Hansan” earned $13.4 million from 1.63 million ticket sales between Friday and Sunday, for a market share of 60%. Over its first five days in theaters, the film amassed $17.9 million from 2.27 million spectators.
That makes it only the third Korean film so far this year to pass the 2 million ticket sales mark, behind “The Roundup” which has now reached 12.7 million spectators and $100.4 million in revenues and “The Witch: Part 2. The Other One, ” which scored $22.4 million from 2.80 million ticket sales.
“Hansan” retains the same director Kim Han-min as “Roaring Currents” and has similarly stirred up nationalistic elements. It depicts a famous battle against Japanese invaders in 1592. And it has won critical praise for story-telling and a massive 51 minutes of battle scenes.
Its fortunes are in contrast with “Alienoid,” which topped the box office a week earlier, but which slipped by 70% and fell to fourth place. The sci-fi tale earned $1.55 million and has a cumulative of $10.9 million after 12 days on release.
Some $820,000 of the weekend total for “Hansan” came from Imax screens. Imax reports that it was the second highest opening weekend by a Korean film on its screens. That relegates the “Alienoid” opening to Imax’s fourth best for a Korean film.
Cinemagoing nationwide was supported by the strong continuing performance of two other films: “Minions: The Rise of Gru” and “Top Gun Maverick.” The overall nationwide box office total for the weekend was $22.0 million, a figure only beaten by the opening frame of “The Roundup.”
Kobis also shows that July was the best month this year at the box office, with 16.2 million spectators delivering gross revenues of KRW170 billion ($130 million). It follows a January to April period that was blighted by COVID restrictions and a strong rebound from May onwards.
For the year to date, cinemagoing in Korea has recorded 61.2 million spectators and a cumulative box office of KRW623 billion ($477 million). In spectator terms that is down 53% compared with 2019’s 131 million after seven months, and a 44% lag in cash terms compared with a January to July 2019 cumulative of KRW1.11 trillion.
“Minions” held on to second place. But it lost 40% in its second week of release. It earned $2.61 million over the weekend and now has a 12-day cumulative of $11.2 million.
“Top Gun Maverick” earned $2.47 million in third place and now has a cumulative of $57.5 million since release on June 22, 2022. In ticket sales terms, it now has more than 7 million and is likely to overtake the 2021-22 score of “Spider-Man: No Way Home.” “Top Gun” is the second biggest film released in Korea in 2022, while “Hansan” is already the seventh ranked.
Over the latest weekend, “Pororo Movie: Dragon Castle Adventure” opened in fifth place with a three-day total of $959,000.
“Decision to Leave” took sixth place, down from fourth, and $663,000. After a month on release, it has accumulated $13.2 million from 1.67 million spectators.
“Detective Conan: The Bride of Halloween” took $248,000 for a three week total of $3.28 million. “Thor: Love and Thunder,” which has under-performed in Korea, earned $54,000 for a four-week cumulative of $22.5 million.
“Emergency Declaration,” a much delayed Korean disaster action film, took tenth place with $41,000 earned from ten screens over the weekend. It launched in wide release on Wednesday.
EXO concert movie, “Beyond Live The Movie: Travel The World” took ninth spot with $49,000.