Roland Emmerich’s space action film “Moonfall” landed in South Korea at the top of the box office chart. But the country’s continuing COVID problems mean that “Moonfall” and all other titles operated at a desperately low orbit.
As the biggest new release of the week Moonfall pushed aside Korean-made “In Our Prime,” the previous weekend’s winner. Its opening score, however, was the lowest for any top-ranking film this year.
“Moonfall” scored just $880,000 over the weekend for distributor Noori Pictures, according to data from Kobis, the tracking service operated by the Korean Film Council (Kofic). Over the five days from its Wednesday release, the film managed $1.17 million.
“In Our Prime” dropped 32% week on week to come second with $750,000 over the weekend, giving it a 12-day cumulative of $3.04 million.
“The Batman” dropped from second to third position, earning $471,000 over the weekend. Since its March 1 debut, the superhero film has amassed $7.06 million. That lowly figure makes the film the second biggest to be released in Korea this year. It is the third highest grossing film of 2022 if December-released “Spider-Man: No Way Home” is also included.
The weekend’s other new releases of imported titles included: “Spencer” with $225,000 ($342,000 over five days); Japan’s “Her Blue Sky” with $38,300 and “Marry Me” with $35,100.
Nationwide aggregate receipts over the weekend totaled just $2.82 million, the second consecutive weekend that overall box office has been stuck below $3 million.
The desperately low level of business in what used to be the world’s fourth largest box office market is closely linked to the country’s staggeringly high levels of new coronavirus infections.
The last few days has seen new coronavirus cases spike sharply upwards, hitting a record of 621,000 on Thursday. The numbers dropped 381,000 on Saturday and 334,000 on Sunday, but experts warned that the drop could be explained by lower amounts of testing over the weekend.
Despite the huge numbers of new COVID cases, reflecting the highly infectious nature of the Omicron variants, the mortality rate is just 0.13 percent. Korea’s population is highly vaccinated (and boosted), but the new wave of infections is disrupting the economy. More than two million people with the disease are reported to be isolating at home.
The government has had to suspend its vaccine pass system in some places, such as cafés and restaurants, because there are no longer enough healthy people to administer the checks. The government is planning to further relax some social-distancing measure in the coming days, but it is not clear how much relief that will provide to the distribution and exhibition industry.
Box office weakness is breeding further box office weakness as the supply of Korean local titles has dropped to a trickle. Hundreds of Korean films are said to be completed or in advanced post-production but are without a confirmed theatrical release date.
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