South Korea Sets Admissions Record for Homegrown Films

"Miracle in Cell No. 7"

As changing audience demographics fuel ticket sales, the Asian country tops 114 million admissions for local movies year-to-date.

SEOUL -- South Korean cinemas recorded nearly 115.99 million admissions for homegrown films as of Tuesday morning, overtaking last year's total of 114.61 million and setting a new record.

In 2012, local movies had topped 100 million admissions for the first time and earned $791 million (836.1 billion won) in box office. So far this year, the box office for homegrown Korean films amounts to $784.86 million, according to the Korean Film Council.

Eight of this year's top 10 films were homegrown. The exceptions were Iron Man 3 and World War Z, which currently come in third and 10th, respectively, in the year's box-office ranking.

According to a survey conducted by Maxmovie, the country's largest film portal site, 55 percent of 15,000 respondents felt that novel subject matters in many of the homegrown films were the primary reason for their success.

Another notable factor in ticket sales was the changing demographics of audiences, with films attracting older moviegoers. Korean Film Council research shows that viewers in their 30s and 40s were the largest age group among moviegoers, marking a shift from the traditionally younger majority of moviegoers.

In January, comedy-drama Miracle in Cell No. 7 was a surprise hit with 12.81 million admissions, becoming the third most watched Korean movie of all time.

In the second half of 2013, Bong Joon-ho's sci-fi fantasy Snowpiercer (9.34 million) and Han Jae-rim's period intrigue The Face Reader (9.13 million) both came close to reaching the mark of 10 million admissions.

Five other films have crossed the 5 million admissions mark this year: inter-Korean spy actioner The Berlin File (7.16 million), North Korean spy drama Secretly, Greatly (6.95 million), and crime thrillers Hide and Seek (5.6 million), The Terror Live (5.57 million), and Cold Eyes (5.5 million).

With the release of more anticipated Korean films in December, such as Way Back Home, A.M. 11:00, The Attorney and The Suspect, the local industry is expected to end with more strong admissions numbers.