Mark James Russell

Books, blog and other blather

Month: March 2009 (page 1 of 2)

Korea Weekend Box Office – March 27-29

Sorry, no time for comments this week. But here is the latest box office report, courtesy of KOFIC. Congratulations to SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE for coming in No. 1… despite the pirated DVD being available everywhere in Korea for months. Not a bad achievement.

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One random note, unrelated to anything: South Korea apparently got a “shout out” in gossip-monger Liz Smith’s most recent column. Kind of funny, though:

And if you’re determined to live beyond your means but afraid of being judged, move to South Korea. They love to spend unashamedly there. Time quotes a Seoul graduate student: “Many Korean girls like to have luxury brands. Even if they live in a box, they spend.”

Korea Weekend Box Office – March 20-22

Okay, I’m rather late to the game, but I must say that SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE is really great. I saw it last weekend and thought it would be okay; but it wasn’t okay, it was great. High recommend.

In Korea, though, SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE opened only in the No. 2 spot, with 234,000 admissions and 1.59 billion won ($1.14 million) over the weekend.

In first place was some Hollywood film called PUSH. PUSH had 280,000 admissions and 1.88 billion won ($1.34 million), enough for first place.

Top Korean film was the No. 3 movie MISSING (Siljong), which had 213,000 admissions and 1.49 billion won ($1.06 million). In fourth was A SAD STORY THAN SADNESS (Seulpeum-boda Seulpeun Iyagi, and a bunch of alternative English titles) with 129,000 admissions and 865 million won ($618,000) to bring its total box office to 3.62 billion won.

OLD PARTNER (Wonang Sori) was in sixth, earning another 425 million won to bring its total to 18.3 billion won ($13 million). And that was it for Korean movies, just three in the top-10 again this week.

Actually, no one film particularly dominated last weekend, with the biggest film (SADNESS) on only 355 screens and the smallest (Gran Torino) on 138. Not a big range compared to usual.

Daytime Drinking

Hey, the trailer for DAYTIME DRINKING is now up on the Apple website. That is kind of cool. Check it out here.

DAYTIME DRINKING also has a pretty decent English website here.

K-Music Komes to iTunes

At long last, K-pop comes to iTunes. Fifty acts make their debut on Apple’s music service, thanks to DFSB Kollective, starting today.

Actually, most of the acts here are not really K-pop; most of them are more interesting, rock and electronic stuff. Vidulgi OoyoO is there, along with Huckleberry Finn, Sung Kiwan and Cocore, Chang Kiha and the Faces, No Brain, and more. Not a bad selection at all.

On the more pop side, you do have Tasha (aka “T”, aka Yoon Mirae) (who is great, btw), Drunken Tiger, Epik High and bands like that. Oh, and g.o.d and Moon Hee Jun, who are definitely big pop names, although more of yesterday.

For a complete list, you can check out this site. More importantly, buy buy buy, buy their music.

Thirsting for Park Chan-wook

Looks like the marketing campaign for Park Chan-wook’s THIRST (aka, Bakjui) is getting started at last. Here are a couple of posters from the film (via the Chosun Ilbo):


And here is the movie trailer:

No signs of a subtitles trailer yet. Will post one if I find it.

Marmot Shrugged — aka Architecture in Korea

In keeping with the architectural theme today over at the Marmot’s Hole, I thought I would link to the March issue of Wallpaper magazine, which featured a look at 19 major buildings in and around Seoul, either in the works or recently completed.


Another link is here (almost the same, but also includes a link to a gallery about the Seoul Design Olympiad of last fall). And here is one more story from that issue, but that I could not find on the actual Wallpaper website.


Don’t forget, Seoul is on deck to become the World Design Capital in 2010, taking over from Turin, Italy.

Gladness for Sadness — English subtitles around Korea

Lotte Entertainment is presenting its latest melodrama, A SAD STORY THAN SADNESS (Seulpeum-boda Seulpeun Iyagi) in several locations with English subtitles, at least for the next little while.

Locations include the Lotte Cinemas in Myeongdong (the Emmanuel Cinema in the Lotte Department Store), Goyang, Ansan, Miryang and Busan.


I wish I could provide times and advance ticketing information, but the Lotte website is horrible to navigate. But if you live in one of the above locations, you probably know your theaters already.

(Since it is so nice to get new Korean films with subtitles, I will refrain from taking shots at the grammar in that bizarre title.)

A Little Rain Must Fall

Pop singer Rain and JYP Entertainment have apparently lost their US court case and have been ordered to pay over $8 million in damages for canceling Rain’s 2007 concert in Hawaii. Ouch!


You can read all about it in The Hollywood Reporter (and many other newswire sources).

Rain and JYP Entertainment must each pay $2.4 million, with an additional $2.3 million for breach of contract and $1 million for damages related to the cancellation.

Because Rain canceled other tour dates that year, this could see a bunch of additional lawsuits. The most pressing one, $30 million for the LA concert cancellation, seems quite different than the Hawaii case and I think Rain should be in better shape.

But even if he wins in LA, that loss in Hawaii has got to hurt.

Korea Weekend Box Office – March 13-15

It was neck-and-neck last weekend between the action film DRAGONBALL EVOLUTION and the South Korean melodrama A SAD STORY THAN SADNESS (Seulpeum-boda Deo Seulpeun Iyagi), but in the end, SADNESS won out. Just barely, with 256,649 admissions versus 252,625.

Revenues were a little wider apart, thanks to DRAGONBALL appealing to the kiddies. SADNESS made 1.74 billion won ($1.23 million) over the weekend, and a total of 2.1 billion won ($1.48 million) since Thursday evening. DRAGONBALL made 1.60 billion won ($1.13 million) and 1.76 billion won ($1.24 million) total.

Coming in third was everybody’s favorite cow, OLD PARTNER (Wonang Sori). It made another 1.03 billion won to bring its two-month total to 17.52 billion won ($12.34 million).

WATCHMEN dropped all the way to fifth, earning just 921.9 million won to bring its total box office to 3.64 billion won ($2.56 million).

The only other Korean film in the top 10 last weekend was THE SCAM (Jakjeon), which landed in eighth. It has now made 9.63 billion won ($6.78 million).

Six of the top 10 films last weekend were new releases. Korean films have accounted for 46.8 percent of the box office so far in 2009.

(Courtesy of KOBIS and the Korean Film Council. Figures represent 98% of the nationwide box office).

Summer Releases

Does the opening of WATCHMEN last week mean the summer movie season now starts at the beginning of March? Let’s hope not. However, the real summer releases are beginning to fill the calendar, and this year looks like one of the more interesting in quite some time.

If you follow Korean movies at all, you know the pattern — Korean films start the year pretty strong, thanks in part of the Lunar New Year. But by March the balance flows back to Hollywood. Then May and June and much of July are completely dominated by Hollywood. But by the end of July, Korean films make a comeback and usually do very well in August. Korean films do well again for the Chuseok holiday in late September/early October, then finish the year strong.

Will 2009 be the same? Certainly Hollywood’s rhythms fit that schedule. But this year there are several really big Korean films challenging Hollywood’s turf, so there is at least the potential for a different result this year. It is still a little early to be talking about summer, but what they hey — here’s a look at the coming season’s movies:

April 2
– PRIVATE EYE (Geurimja Sarin). A thriller set early in the Japanese colonial period. So far colonial era films have had rather lackluster results at the box office, but this film looks interesting.
– FAST & FURIOUS 4 (or whatever number this one is).

April 30
– THIRST (Bakjui). The new Park Chan-wook film. Starring Song Gang-ho. Religion, vampires, sex. What else do you need to know?
– WOLVERINE

May 7 – STAR TREK
May 14 – ANGELS AND DEMONS
May 22 – TERMINATOR 4
Some time in May (tentative) – MOTHER. Bong Joon-ho’s latest. Distributor is waiting to see how the film does at Cannes, hoping it gets some good coverage and a bounce. Early word on this film is very strong.

June
– TRANSFORMERS 2: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN. The first TRANSFORMERS film was the most successful foreign film ever in Korea. How will the sequel do?
– GI JOE. Officially slated for August 2, word is Fox has moved this film up to June, although there is no exact date yet. (UPDATE: Nevermind. I’m an idiot. August release it is.) Features Lee Byung-hun has one of the bad guys.

July 2 – PUBLIC ENEMIES

Sometime in July
– HAEUNDAE. Big tsunami hits the sound coast of Korea, in particular the popular beach resort of Haeundae. Big money is going into the disaster effects, plus it stars Sol Kyung-gu and Ha Ji-won.
– JEON WOO CHI. Goblins wreaking havoc on the world? I would be more skeptical, but I am a pretty big fan of Choi Dong-hoon (TAZZA, THE BIG SWINDLE), so I have hope this film could be a lot of fun. Besides, special-effects heavy films coming out in late July/early August have a pretty good record (THE HOST, D-WAR).

No dates yet
– HARRY POTTER 6.
– All those Hollywood comedies. Hollywood still pushes its blockbusters hard in Korea, but the vulgar comedies just do not translate well so often get minimal releases (if any at all).

I am sure I have missed more than a few films. I will update this list as summer gets closer.

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