The Korea Herald


Prolific actors ready to compete at Chuseok box office

By Kim Da-sol

Published : Aug. 21, 2023 - 13:38

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“Cobweb” (Barunson) “Cobweb” (Barunson)

Another peak time for box office competition, besides the summer holidays and Lunar New Year is Chuseok, the Korean version of Thanksgiving. As this year’s Chuseok will be an extended holiday over the weekend from Sept. 28 to Oct. 1, even more moviegoers are expected to hit the cinema.

Prolific actors like Song Kang-ho, Ha Jung-woo and Gang Dong-won will compete at the Chuseok box office with their respective much-awaited films completed before the pandemic, raising anticipations among movie buffs.

Song Kang-ho’s “Cobweb,” which premiered at this year’s Cannes Film Festival’s noncompetitive Un Certain Regard section in May, is expected to open around the Chuseok holiday season. The exact date has not yet been confirmed. At Cannes, the film received nearly a 10-minute standing ovation.

Directed by Kim Jee-woon, the black comedy flick revolves around the struggles of a director (Song) in the 1970s, when the film industry languished due to government censorship and unsupportive actors. The cast includes Lim Soo-jeong, Oh Jeong-se, Jeon Yeo-been and Jung Soo-jung.

The film has already set high expectations for moviegoers as to the synergy between Song’s flagship sense of humor and crafty acting with Kim’s stylish black comedy set some 50 years ago.

“Road to Boston” (Lotte Entertainment) “Road to Boston” (Lotte Entertainment)

Next on the list is “Road to Boston,” a biographical film shedding light on the story of Korean marathoner Sohn Kee-jung and his preparation for the first international marathon held after World War II. Featuring Ha Jung-woo as Sohn and Yim Si-wan as fellow competitor Seo Yoon-bok, the film was helmed by Kang Je-gyu, who has been behind various hit films including “Shiri” (1999), “Brotherhood” (2004) and “Take Off” (2009).

“Road to Boston” had already wrapped up filming in January 2020 and will finally be presented to audiences on Sept. 27.

“Dr. Cheon and Lost Talisman” (CJ ENM) “Dr. Cheon and Lost Talisman” (CJ ENM)

Gang Dong-won returns in “Dr. Cheon and Lost Talisman,” the type of comic drama flick he has a good record with both critically and at the box office.

Directed by Kim Seong-sik, the film tells the story of fake exorcist Dr. Cheon (Gang) and his encounter with a strong demonic possession. Heo Jun-ho, Lee Dong-hwi, Lee Som and Kim Jong-su star.

Eyes are on whether Gang will continue his legacy of box office hits with comedy films “Too Beautiful to Lie” (2004), “Jeon Woo-chi: The Taoist Wizard” (2009) and “A Violent Prosecutor” (2016).

Industry insiders hope to see the Chuseok holiday season create momentum to pull up staggering sales at the local box office, despite competitive releases of tentpole films this summer. Only “Smugglers” and “Concrete Utopia” have or are expected to surpass their breakeven point, at around 4 million tickets per film.

Korean Film Council data showed that the number of tickets sold for Korean films stood at about 3.32 million, around half the level compared to July last year at 6.35 million. Over the same period, the number of cinemagoers who watched foreign films was some 19 million, an increase by 1 million tickets.