Studios hope for hits during the financially pivotal holiday season
Given the large numbers of viewers in Korea who visit their local multiplex during the four holiday seasons (Lunar New Year, summer, Chuseok and end-of-year), it’s important for the local studios to capitalize on these periods.
Since audiences of all ages watch films during these lucrative periods, it’s important the films attract a wide demographic, a major factor behind the success of “Along with the Gods.”
The upcoming Lunar New Year season (Feb. 15–17) looks to be a competitive one with four major studios releasing titles. These will go up against Marvel’s “Black Panther,” to be released on Feb. 14.
The first of the Lunar New Year releases, “Psychokinesis,” hit screens at the end of January. A studio will not release a film well ahead of a busy season unless they feel it can generate momentum once word gets out. Directed by Yeon Sang-ho (“Train to Busan”) and starring Ryu Seung-ryong and Shim Eun-kyung, it follows a man who sets out to help his daughter and those around him after acquiring superpowers.
Repeating the success of “Train to Busan” — the most successful Korean film overseas and a gargantuan box office hit locally — will be a challenge. But given the film has already been acquired by Netflix, only the domestic box office sales really matter at this point.
Detective K 3
The “Detective K” films have been strong performers for distributor Showbox during the Lunar New Year season. The first two films were box office hits directed by Kim Suk-yoon. His third film in the series, “Detective K: Secret of the Bloodsucking Demon,” sees the return of the famous Joseon detective, played by Kim Myung-min, and his sidekick, played by Oh Dal-su, who investigate a series of murders during a period of political uncertainty under King Jeongjo.
Age of the Rebellion
As period films have performed well during the Lunar New Year and Chuseok seasons, it’s unsurprising that Lotte Entertainment (behind the hit “Along with the Gods”) is also releasing one in the form of “Age of the Rebellion,” directed by Cho Keun-hyun (“26 Years”) and starring the late Kim Joo-hyuk, who died last year in a car accident.
The film, which like “Detective K” is set during the Joseon period, follows the author who becomes famous after penning a satirical play. The angry ruling elite seek his arrest, however, and the author finds himself leading an outright rebellion.
CJ Entertainment could have done with any number of titles for the holiday season, but chose the thriller “Golden Slumber,” based on the 2007 Japanese novel of the same name by Kotaro Isaska. Directed by Noh Dong-seok, the film follows a delivery man who is framed for the murder of a newly elected prime minister. It stars Gang Dong-won, widely praised for his small but pivotal role in the critically acclaimed film “1987: When the Day Comes.”
All these titles, however, will have to compete against an event taking place away from the multiplexes, the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games. It remains to be seen whether this will have an impact on box office ticket sales.
Written by Jason Bechervaise