Korea approaches record

Sales set new mark, moviegoers near top levels

SEOUL -- Theatrical admissions in South Korea reached near record levels in the first half of this year.

According to a report by the Korean Film Council, admissions climbed 2.9%  to 72.1 million, while in cash terms the increase was 4.7 % at 477 billion won ($375 million). The sales total is the highest six-month period on record, and the number of moviegoers the second highest, beaten only by the first half of 2006.

With seven local films in the top 10, Korean films performed strongly, increasing their market share from 37% to 45%. That put them on a par with U.S. films which saw their market share drop from over 54% to 45%. The remainder of the market belonged to European, Chinese and Japanese pictures.

Among distributors, the crown again belonged to industry behemoth CJ Entertainment, which accounted for 25% of the total business, but Lotte Entertainment also had a stellar semester. It handled the three top titles "Terminator Salvation" with 4.46 million admissions, "My Girlfriend is an Agent" (4.03 million admissions) and "Speedy Scandal" with 3.83 million, for a 20% share of the box office.

KOFIC pointed to a strong line-up, which it called "an aggressive distribution plan" for the local industry, that could keep it on even terms with the Hollywood blockbusters such as "Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs" and "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince." Expected Korean champions to be released in the third quarter include CJ's disaster movie "Haeundae" and Showbox's human drama "National Athlete."
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