All hail the power of dad! In just one month the South Korean box office has produced one of the biggest domestic box office hits with Ode to My Father, coming so soon after last year’s runaway victor The Admiral: Roaring Currents. The movie has raked in over $80 million US dollars in South Korea and topping the box office in each of the five weeks it’s been airing. There is still a long ways to go to catch The Admiral’s $135 million total but Father’s $80 mil/5 weeks alone is just insane! Thanks to Father’s pan-appeal to family sacrifice and plumbing South Korean history, the spate of highly anticipated youngster-led movies that was released during the year end holiday season all fizzled to varying degrees. The Royal Tailor with Han Suk Kyu, Go Soo, Park Shin Hye, and Yoo Yeon Seok was a royal bomb, premiering at number 5 at the box office before dropping to 9 in the second week and then disappearing off the charts. Then came The Con Artists with Kim Woo Bin which fared a little better against Father but still has under-performed against expectations. Up now is Love Forecast with Lee Seung Gi and Moon Chae Won followed by Gangnam 1970 with Lee Min Ho and Kim Rae Won.
Love Forecast premiered last week on Jan 15th and didn’t manage to dethrone Father from the top of the box office but held tight to the second place position and debuted with a respectable $8 million. All that heavy duty promoting by leads Lee Seung Gi and Moon Chae Won payed off, and the audiences were perhaps in the mood for some lighthearted romance in the cold of winter. Ha Ji Won and Ha Jung Woo‘s Chronicle of a Blood Merchant premiered the same week as Love Forecast and came in third in the box office with a little over $3 million in ticket sales. Next week to challenge Father is director Yoo Ha‘s gritty Gangnam 1970 and by then Father will have been in theaters 6 weeks so perhaps it’ll finally relinquish the top spot.
Another note on Father’s crazy success, the movie has already crossed 11 million viewers, joining the elite 10 million and over club which means 1-in-5 Koreans (South Korea has a population of 50 million) has seen the movie in just the last 5 weeks alone. Only 10 other domestic Korean movies of all time has crossed the 10 million viewers mark, with Father now being the 11th such domestic movie. The director of Father is also in the unprecedented spot of being the only South Korean director with two movies which have crossed the 10 million viewer mark with his other movie being the tsunami disaster movie Haeundae with Ha Ji Won. Nice! Just to note on the other 10 movies to cross the 10 million viewer mark are:
1. The Admiral: Roaring Currents
2. The Host
3. The Thieves
4. Miracle in Cell No. 7
6. The King and the Clown
9. The Attorney
I smell a Baeksang this year for Father’s male lead, the always incredible Hwang Jung Min.