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‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’ conquers local box office

Local movies absent from top chart

“Spider-Man: No Way Home” by Jon Watts (Sony Pictures)
“Spider-Man: No Way Home” by Jon Watts (Sony Pictures)

“Spider-Man: No Way Home,” Marvel‘s latest Spider-Man film has sold 4,825,696 tickets in South Korea since its release on Dec. 15, becoming the most popular film of the year.

During the Christmas holiday (from Dec. 24-26), Jon Watts’ hero film sold 1,299 627 tickets, according to box office figures released by the Korean Film Council.

“Spider-Man: No Way Home“ depicts the story of Spider-Man after his identity is revealed. Spider-Man (Tom Holland) asks Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) for help with his identity issue. However, Doctor Strange’s spell goes wrong and dangerous foes from other worlds start to appear, forcing Peter to discover what it truly means to be Spider-Man.

Before Spider-Man swung into theaters, “Escape from Mogadishu” directed by Ryoo Seung-wan was the most-watched film of 2021, having sold more than 3.61 million tickets. Ryoo’s film delayed its release date several times due to the COVID-19 situation and in July, it was finally released with support from the Korean Theater Association, which includes the country‘s top three multiplex operators -- CGV, Lotte Cinema and Megabox.

The association members forgo ticket proceeds until sales reached 50 percent of the total production costs of Ryoo’s movie, mainly to encourage its release. Theaters and film distributors usually split ticket sales 50-50. Since Ryoo’s film cost around 25 billion won ($21.82 million) to make, it was able to break even after selling more than 3 million tickets with this support.

The Spider-Man film also broke the record set by “Deliver Us from Evil” directed by Hong Won-chan which attracted the highest number of ticket sales after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Hong’s film was released in August last year and sold 4.35 million tickets.

These new records were made amid the government‘s toughen social distancing regulations that impacted local theaters‘ operations. From Dec. 18 through Sunday, movie theaters nationwide have to close by 10 p.m. Proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test result is required to enter.

Meanwhile, it was hard to spot Korean movies on this holiday’s top ten local box office chart as not many highly-anticipated local films have been released recently. “Nothing Serious” directed by Jung Ga-young, which was released in November, was the only film that made the chart by being ranked No.6.

This situation is likely to continue for a while as many Korean films, such as “Emergency Declaration” and “Kingmaker,” which were originally scheduled to be released around the Seollal holiday and Dec. 29, respectively, have decided to postpone their theatrical releases.

By Song Seung-hyun (
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Korea Herald daum