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In a weekend filled with festive spirit and the celebration of the Chuseok holiday in South Korea, local films took center stage at the box office, leaving a significant impact on the country’s cinema landscape. Three homegrown productions garnered considerable attention and revenue, offering audiences a diverse range of cinematic experiences.
Leading the charge was the comedy-fantasy film “Dr Cheon and the Lost Talisman.” Featuring the ever-charismatic Gang Dong-won in the lead role of a sorcerer, the movie seamlessly blended elements of comedy, action, fist-fights, and exorcisms. Its appeal resonated strongly with audiences, resulting in a remarkable box office performance.
Over the course of the weekend, “Dr Cheon and the Lost Talisman” earned a staggering $5.98 million, securing a dominant market share of more than 48%. This impressive feat, however, is not limited to the weekend alone. Since its release on a Wednesday, including previews from the previous week, the film has raked in a cumulative total of $8.37 million, solidifying its position as a cinematic hit.
A close runner-up in the weekend’s box office race was “Road to Boston,” a nationalistic sports drama that chronicles the journey of underdog Korean marathon runners from more than half a century ago. Directed by Kang Je-gyu, one of the pioneers of the Korean patriotic spectacle genre, the film had been in the making prior to the onset of COVID-19. Despite the pandemic-related delays, “Road to Boston” finally made its debut and proved its enduring appeal.
Over the Chuseok holiday weekend, “Road to Boston” earned a commendable $2.88 million. However, its success extended beyond these three days, as it amassed a total of $4.05 million during its opening five-day run since its Wednesday release. The film’s themes of perseverance and triumph resonated strongly with viewers, making it a heartwarming addition to the holiday film lineup.
Securing the third spot at the box office was “Cobweb,” a period piece that initially premiered at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival in May. The film, however, was not without controversy, as it faced scrutiny over whether its lead character accurately represented one of Korean film pioneers or was merely a pastiche.
Despite these challenges, “Cobweb” overcame an injunction through an out-of-court settlement and adhered to its scheduled Wednesday release. Over the weekend, it managed to garner $937,000 in ticket sales, with a total of $1.59 million in its opening five days. The film’s ability to navigate through controversy and deliver an engaging narrative was commendable.
Notably, a U.S.-made horror film, “The Nun II,” also sought to capitalize on the holiday season by attempting to send shivers down the spines of moviegoers. It collected $918,000 during the weekend and accumulated $1.48 million over its first five days, proving that horror can be a lucrative genre during holidays.
In addition to these local and international releases, a Japanese animation titled “Butt Detective” made its entrance on Thursday, earning $343,000 during the weekend and $468,000 in its first four days. This unique offering added a touch of whimsy to the holiday film selection.
Among the holdover films, “Sleep,” a drama fantasy that had previously topped the charts throughout September, continued to draw audiences. It brought in $269,000 over the weekend, pushing its aggregate total to an impressive $10.0 million.
While the aggregate box office revenue of $12.5 million marked a significant improvement from the previous two weeks when cinemas were deprived of significant new titles, it was noted that this figure was relatively modest for a major holiday period. Comparatively, it fell lower than the earnings of all but one regular weekend during the months of July and August.
As the Chuseok holiday season comes to a close, South Korea’s cinematic landscape has been shaped by a trio of compelling local films that captured the hearts and minds of audiences. From the mystical world of “Dr Cheon and the Lost Talisman” to the inspiring story of “Road to Boston” and the intriguing narrative of “Cobweb,” these movies added depth and diversity to the holiday film lineup, reminding us of the enduring power of storytelling on the big screen.