‘Beasts’ Business Hints at Better Times Ahead


Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore” dominated the South Korean box office on its opening weekend.

The “Harry Potter” spinoff franchise film earned $2.94 million between Friday and Sunday, accounting for 72% of theatrical business in Korea, according to data from Kobis, the tracking service operated by the Korean Film Council (Kofic). Over the five days since its Wednesday opening, the film grossed $4.09 million.

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The film’s debut was strong enough to lift the nationwide weekend aggregate to $4.07 million. That was the first time in eight weeks that the total had exceeded $4 million.

There were thin pickings for other titles. “Sonic the Hedgehog 2,” winner on the previous weekend, fell by 42% to a $479,000 second weekend. After 11 days in Korean cinemas, it has a cumulative score of $1.55 million.

“Morbius,” in third place, earned $151,000 over the weekend. It has accumulated $3.70 million since its March 30, 2022, release.

The top-ranking local film, “Stellar” earned just $98,000 over the weekend. That gives a total of $647,000 since release on April 6. Michael Bay’s “Ambulance” earned $93,000 in fifth place for a total of $887,000.

While the box office lies in deep recession territory there may be good news on the horizon in the shape of soon-to-be-relaxed health restrictions.

New COVID cases nationwide dropped below 100,000 per day on Sunday for the first time since early March. As this appears to confirm a downward trend, the national government is proposing to lower the status of its health emergency from the highest level to the second highest tier.

Curfews on restaurants, cafes and other small businesses will be removed. And a limit on the size of private gatherings, currently set at ten people, will be abandoned. This should allow cinemas to begin a return to normal operations. But the mask mandate will remain in place.

The country will also operate a four-week trial period in which mandatory 7-day quarantine for new COVID cases will be replaced with a less severe system, under which patients will be treated at clinics. If that is successful, the disease will be considered as endemic by the end of May.

Cinema operators and film distributors have not yet had a chance to rebuild the theatrical releasing calendar. But CJ Entertainment was quick to say that its Cannes competition film “Broker” is to be given a tentative June release.

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