Korean films return to form at b.o.

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SEOUL -- Korean movies rebounded in April after a miserable March, but the outlook for local films in 2007 remains mixed, according to the latest boxoffice report issued by CJ CGV, South Korea's largest multiplex chain.

April saw 8 million admissions nationwide, making it the second-strongest April on record, though down 18.8% from last year.

Local movies accounted for 56% of the boxoffice for the month, a solid return to form after March's 21.4% slice. Hollywood accounted for 34.7% of admissions while U.K. films took 7.4%. No other country topped 1%.

The top three films for April were all Korean, led by MK Pictures' "Paradise Murdered," with 1.72 million admissions. That was followed by Lotte Entertainment's "The Show Must Go On," with 994,784 admissions, and CJ Entertainment's "Smalltown Rivals," with 914,483 admissions in April.

Warner Bros.' "300" was the top foreign grosser, with 667,200 April admissions, even though it was released March 14 (its total admissions now stand at more than 3 million).

Much of the strength in local admissions, however, comes from an increase in the number of multiplexes and rising attendance outside of Seoul. In Seoul, which has been saturated with multiplexes for several years, April's admissions for Korean films was the weakest in four years.

In fact, Seoul ticket sales for local movies in February and March also were the lowest in four years, and January's admissions were lower than in 2006 and 2004.

With "Spider-Man 3" launching with the second-strongest opening week ever in Korea, plus other Hollywood blockbusters on their way, May looks as if it will be another weak month for local films.
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