South Korea Box Office 2018: Hollywood Titles Dominate Top 10

Courtesy of Edko Films
'Along with the Gods The Last 49 Days'

Hollywood films, led by 'Avengers: Infinity War' and 'Bohemian Rhapsody,' made up the majority of the South Korean box office top 10 list for 2018 in a significant shift from past years.

Hollywood films made up the majority of the South Korean box office top 10 list for 2018 in a significant shift from past years, even though a local title won out for the year in the Asian country, according to the Korean Film Council's KOBIS database.

Six among last year's 10 top-grossing films hailed from Hollywood, with tentpoles such as Avengers: Infinity War ($92.8 million) and global smash hit Bohemian Rhapsody ($62.6 million as of Dec. 31 and $74 million as of Monday) taking the second and third places overall, respectively. They trailed only local title Along With the Gods: The Last 49 Days, which reached total box office revenue of $91.9 million for the year.

That more than half of the top 10 films were imports marks a significant shift from previous years: only three foreign titles finished among the best-performing films in 2017, while there were just two in 2016, four in 2015 and four in 2013.

The last time Hollywood titles held the majority of the top 10 in the country was in 2010 at 53.4 percent. Overall, however, domestic films continued to have the slightly bigger market share last year at 50.9 percent, which marked a dip from 2017's 51.8 percent.

Total box office revenue in the country increased by 3 percent to reach $1.62 billion (1.81 trillion Korean won) as the cumulative number of screenings crossed 3,000 for the first time after being in the 2,000 range since 2015. This was due to a considerable jump in the number of new releases to 660 from 495 in 2017.

Admissions, on the other hand, did not go hand-in-hand with revenue growth for the first time, dropping slightly to 216.4 million from nearly 220 million in 2017. Though South Korea has a population of just 51 million, it still has one of the world's highest per-capita movie attendance rates.

Three films crossed the 10-million admissions mark, the traditional milestone for box office success in South Korea: the local fantasy adventure Along With the Gods: The Two Worlds (released in December 2017; it reached $103.6 million and 14.4 million admissions) and its sequel, Along With the Gods: The Last 49 Days ($91.9 million or 12.3 million admissions), as well as Avengers: Infinity War ($92.8 million or 11.2 million admissions).

The back-to-back success of the fantasy franchise Along With the Gods, as well as Mission: Impossible – Fallout, the Paramount title it distributed in South Korea, meant that Lotte Cultureworks (formerly known as Lotte Entertainment) became the country's leading film distributor of 2018. The industry had been led by CJ Entertainment for 15 years. Lotte distributed 14 local and foreign films in the first 11 months of 2018 and held a market share of 18 percent.

Walt Disney Korea came in second with 15.2 percent of the market share for its 10 titles, followed by CJ, which dropped to No. 3 with a 12.5 percent share and 15 films. Next Entertainment World came in fourth at 9.8 percent with 19 titles. Showbox, which was the No. 2 distributor in 2017, fell to the ninth spot with 5.2 percent from just six titles.