Korean Films Overwhelm Hollywood Imports in Domestic Market

Korean moviegoers flocked to domestic films at about nine times the rate of Hollywood products over the past weekend, putting the nation’s film industry on track toward reclaiming a lion’s share of the domestic box office from Hollywood for the first time in at least a half century.

Thanks to Bong Joon-ho’s Snowpiercer and Kim Byung-woo’s The Terror Live β€” which sold 8.34 million and 5.14 mil. tickets respectively β€” Korean films captured 89.1% of the box office last weekend. With four months and 10 days remaining in the year, ticket sales of 81.72 million put the domestic film industry on track to surpass the 100-million mark for the second year in a row, but possibly even to approach the 200 million mark for the first time ever.

The dramatic revival of Korea’s domestic film industry comes at a time when the screen quota system designed to protect the local film industry has reduced the number of days on which only Korean films may be shown to just 73 days as of 2006. It had been 146 days until 1998 and 106 days until 2006.

A spate of films by big-name directors or featuring major stars are expected to hit theaters during the remaining portion of the year. They could send total ticket sales by domestic films close to 200 million. If it hits even 130 million, their market share could pass 80%. The previous high of 63.6% occurred in 2006. After dropping precipitously for several years, the percentage had risen to 51.9% in 2011 and to 58.2% in 2012 which industry observers dubbed β€œthe year of Korean film Renaissance.”

If domestic films continue to do well for the rest of the year, Korea would become the only nation in which the domestic film industry enjoys at least twice the box office of Hollywood imports.