Oscars: 'Parasite' to Dramatically Expand Theater Count Following Historic Win

Courtesy of Neon
'Parasite'

Bong Joon Ho's South Korean movie is the first non-English-language film ever to win the Academy Award for best picture.

In the wake of its historic Academy Award win for best picture and best director, Parasite will dramatically expand its theater count in the U.S. this weekend to as many as 2,000 or more locations, double its current reach.

Bong Joon Ho's acclaimed South Korean film, which indie distributor Neon first opened in select cinemas in early October, is certain to enjoy a lucrative post-Oscars bump, considering that its widest cinema count to date has been 1,060 locations.

Parasite is already one of the top-grossing foreign-language films of all time in the U.S., with $35.5 million in ticket sales through Sunday. Some box office analysts now believe it could make as much as $45 million to $50 million, even though it is already available to rent or buy for the home (it debuted on DVD Jan. 28).

The film is now only days away from passing up Pan’s Labyrinth ($37.6 million) to land at No. 5 on the list, not adjusted for inflation. And it could pass up Instructions Not Included ($44.5 million). No. 1 is Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon ($128.1 million), followed by Life is Beautiful ($57.2 million) and Hero ($53.7 million).

Parasite is the first non-English-language movie ever to win the Oscar for best picture. It won three other top awards Sunday night; best director, best original screenplay and best international feature.

"The good news for Parasite is that the film's many mysteries and complexities make it required viewing not only in the movie theater, but on home video where audiences can take the time to study the nuances and puzzling dynamics that make the story so intriguing and irresistible," says Paul Dergarabedian of Comscore.

Parasite is a major victory for Neon, founded by Tom Quinn in 2017, and the young company's first best picture win. Neon acquired rights from producer CJ Entertainment.

The pic — about a poverty-stricken family who hustle a wealthy couple with unintended consequences — has defied all expectations since first debuting in New York and Los Angeles over the Oct. 11-13 weekend. And between the time of Oscar nominations and Sunday's ceremony, it added more than $10 million in domestic grosses.

One of the secrets to its success is its appeal to younger consumers (Gen Z and millennials).

When Parasite finally expanded nationwide late last month in advance of the Academy Awards, almost 60 percent of ticket buyers over the Jan. 24-26 weekend were between ages 18 and 34, according to those with access to PostTrak's exit surveys.

Overseas, the genre-bending comedy-thriller has grossed roughly $130 million to date, including a huge $71 million in South Korea, for a global total north of $165 million. Over the Jan. 7-9 weekend, Parasite scored the biggest opening of all time for a non-English-language film in the U.K. (in the coming days, the screen count in the U.K. will jump as well, from roughly 185 locations to more than 400).