Korea Box Office: Female-Led ‘Smugglers’ Dominates Weekend Action

There is female empowerment in Korean cinemas, but it is coming more from local characters, than global hit “Barbie.”

Female-led crime action film “Smugglers” dominated the weekend at the South Korean box office and pushed aside “Mission: impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One” which had headed the chart for the previous two sessions.

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“Smugglers” earned $9.31 million between Friday and Sunday, according to data from Kobis, the tracking service operated by the Korean Film Council (Kofic), giving it a nearly 54% market share. Over its full five opening days, the film has built up a cumulative total of $13.1 million.

Directed by stylish action specialist Ryoo Seungwan (aka Ryu Seung-wan), “Smugglers” is set in Jeju where some of the island’s famous diving women have lost their jobs. Instead they use their skills to mount a smuggling operation, collecting illegal shipments that have been dropped into the sea.

The film has already been invited to both the Locarno and Toronto film festivals as special screenings material.

Pixar animation “Elemental” held on to its second place in its seventh week on release in Korea. It earned $2.85 million over the weekend for a 17% market share. That increment gives it a running total of $43.8 million, and poised within a day or two to become the second highest grossing film of the year in Korea.

Over the latest weekend, “Mission: Impossible” earned $2.43 million in third place. Over three weeks on release in Korea, it has earned $27.9 million.

A step below the trio of market leaders, “Detective Conan The Movie: Black Iron Submarine” earned $703,000 in its second weekend of release.

“Barbie,” which has had a miserable time in real world Korea, remained in fifth position. It earned $667,000 in its second weekend for a 12-day cumulative of $3.28 million. “Insidious: The Red Door” earned $398,000 in sixth place. It has accumulated $2.85 million over the same period.

Korean animation “Super Wings: Maximum Speed” earned $175,000 over the weekend, to reach a cumulative of $673,000.

New release kids film “Pinkfong Sing-Along Movie 3: Catch the Gingerbread Man” earned $114,000 over the weekend and $165,000 over its opening five days. Re-released Chinese film “My Love” remained in the chart, earning $121,000 over the weekend.

And in a taste of what may be to come, Korean sci-fi action-drama film “The Moon” earned $124,000 from previews. It opens widely on Wednesday and may help the slowly building recovery of cinema in Korea.

The latest weekend saw nationwide aggregate takings of $17.4 million, making it the fourth biggest weekend of 2023.

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