A powerful debut for ‘Hansan: Rising Dragon’, a locally made historical action film, lifted the South Korean box office to the second highest weekend of the year and helped make July the best month of 2022.
The film is a prequel to “Roaring Currents,” a story of a heroic 14th-century naval admiral who amassed some 17 million admissions in 2014 and is currently the most-watched Korean film of all time.
Data from KOBIS, the tracking service of the Korean Film Council (Kofic), showed that “Hansan” earned $13.4 million from Friday to Sunday from 1.63 million ticket sales, for a 60% market share. During its first five days in theaters, the film collected $17.9 million from 2.27 million spectators.
That makes it only the third Korean film this year to cross the 2 million ticket sales mark, behind “The Roundup,” which has now reached 12.7 million viewers and $100.4 million in revenue, 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 fueled nationalist elements. It depicts a famous battle against Japanese invaders in 1592. And it has received critical acclaim for its storytelling and a whopping 51 minutes of battle scenes.
His fortune contrasts with “Alienoid,” which topped the box office a week earlier, but fell 70%, dropping to fourth place. The sci-fi story made $1.55 million and has a cumulative $10.9 million after 12 days of release.
About $820,000 of the weekend total for “Hansan” came from Imax screens. Imax reports that this was the second highest opening weekend of a Korean film on the screens. That relegated the “Alienoid” opening to Imax’s fourth best for a Korean film.
The nationwide cinema going was bolstered by the strong continued performances of two other films: “Minions: The Rise of Gru” and “Top Gun Maverick.” The 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 at the box office this year, with 16.2 million spectators bringing in gross revenues of KRW 170 billion ($130 million). It follows a January to April period ravaged by COVID restrictions and a strong recovery from May.
For the year to date, cinema admissions in Korea have received 61.2 million spectators and a cumulative box office of KRW623 billion ($477 million). In terms of onlookers, that’s a 53% drop from 2019’s 131 million after seven months, and a 44% cash backlog compared to January to July 2019 cumulatively of KRW 1.11 trillion.
“Minions” kept the second place. But it lost 40% in its second week of release. It made $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 $57.5 million since its release on June 22, 2022. In terms of ticket sales, it now has over 7 million and is likely to the 2021-22 score of “Spider-Man: No Way Home.” “Top Gun” is the second biggest movie to be released in Korea in 2022, while “Hansan” is already in seventh place.
Over the past 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 of release, it has collected $13.2 million from 1.67 million spectators.
“Detective Conan: The Bride of Halloween” took in $248,000 for a three-week total of $3.28 million. Underperforming in Korea, Thor: Love and Thunder earned $54,000 for a total of $22.5 million in four weeks.
“Emergency Declaration,” a much-delayed Korean disaster action movie, took tenth place with $41,000 earned from ten screens over the weekend. It was massively launched on Wednesday.
EXO concert film “Beyond Live The Movie: Travel The World” took ninth place with $49,000.