“Broker,” the unconventional family drama which appeared in competition at last month’s Cannes Film Festival, topped the box office in South Korea on Wednesday, its opening day.
“Broker” grossed $1.10 million, enough to depose crime actioner “The Roundup” from the top spot that it had enjoyed for the past three weeks and which had made it the highest performing film this year.
According to data from the Kobis tracking service operated by the Korean Film Council, “Broker” played on 1,590 screens and sold 145,000 tickets for Wednesday screenings. Its cumulative total of $1.15 million includes some $44,000 of previews earned on 14 screens.
The feat by a local art-house film gives further support to the notion that cinema attendance is rebounding in Korea. The country was formerly the world’s fourth biggest theatrical market, thanks to high per-capita rates of attendance.
The Korean theatrical industry, however, was moribund through much of 2020 and 2021 due to COVID restrictions, a threadbare releasing schedule and aggressive competition from streaming platforms. With the omicron wave hitting Korea between February and April of this year, box office plumbed even lower depths.
Cinema restrictions were completely lifted at the beginning of May, and the Korean release schedule is currently being rebuilt.
Directed by Japan’s Kore-eda Hirokazu, the Korean-language “Broker” scored a best actor prize at Cannes for male lead with “Parasite” star Song Kang-ho. Playing like a scrappy road movie, more than a crime story, the film tells the tale of two chancers who are trying to arrange an adoptive home for an unwanted infant, the child’s mother who tags along, and two women police officers on their trail.
The film’s other performers are also major draws in Korea. Second male lead, Gang Dong-won is a veteran who has starred in hits including “Peninsula,” “Golden Slumber” and “The Priests.” Li Ji-eun, better known as IU, is a major singing star in Korea who has appeared in multiple TV dramas, including Netflix show “Crash Landing on You,” but counts a much smaller feature film tally. Bae Doo-na, who plays one of the police, previously played in the Bong Joon Ho-directed hit “The Host” and “Cloud Atlas.” She is currently shooting Zack Snyder’s “Rebel Moon.” And Lee Joo-young, who portrays the junior police officer, recently came off hit TV series “Itaewon Class.”
The film was produced by Zip Cinema. Finance, local release and international sales are handled by CJ Entertainment.
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