Hong Sang Soo and Kim Min Hee’s Film On the Beach at Night Alone Fails at the Box Office

The South Korean wallets have spoken and a first ever prestigious award win isn’t enough to overcome the personal life gossip at the box office. Director Hong Sang Soo‘s latest indie film On the Beach at Night Alone starring Kim Min Hee premiered last Thursday in South Korea and after the weekend is ranked a paltry 9th on the box office charts, with less than 30,000 admissions (27,311 in 5 days). While indie films, especially ones with moody themes such as On the Beach detailing an actress getting over an affair with her movie director, are never expected to be box office hits but this is much lower than pundits expected considering Kim Min Hee won Best Actress at the prestigious Berlin Film Festival for her role in this film and South Koreans always feel pride and express their support when one of their own ascends a world stage moment. It’s a shame her acting talent cannot be judged or appreciated by most audience goers divorced from judgment about her personal life, but her Best Actress award and having a man who professes to love her ought to be comfort.


Hong Sang Soo and Kim Min Hee’s Film On the Beach at Night Alone Fails at the Box Office — 40 Comments

  1. Well, on the contrary I think this whole affair scandal actually boosted ticket sales a little. Hong Sang Soo isn’t a hitmaker anyway just like Kim Ki Duk – they’re adored everywhere else except South Korea. His last movie got even less admissions (Yourself and Yours – 16,668; got it from the Hancinema site), that’s why I’m pretty sure he and Kim Min Hee will be still churning out similar dramedies. His movies are cheap to make and they always find place in international movie festivals – and that’s some kind of a path.
    By the way, I’m pretty indifferent towards their extramarital affair. I’m only curious about Kim Min Hee’s future career if there’s any.

    • I think she will be fine with both her her latest movies are international hits.
      They still gave her best award even after the scandal.

    • I’ve seen Kim ki duk and can vouch that the ones I have watched are praise worthy. Like 3 irons or spring, winter,summer and Fall, especially Time, which had a very interesting story and shed light on Korea’s plastic surgery culture, and the actors nailed it too, needless to say. If a story is good, people are bound to watch it…whether they hate the director or not,IMO. Unless we are talking about a murderer here lol. But it’s not for us to give verdict and judge someone because we don’t have entry to their private life, so it would be difficult to come to a conclusion or to know who’s more to blame.

      • I love 3-Irons by Kim Ki Duk, although some his movies don’t really suits my taste…

  2. Its not really fail. Its an indie film. There are many film has same amount of tickets without any scandal. At least it still top 10.

    I heard the movie is going to Cannes.

  3. But Hong Sang Soo’s films were never commercial hits anyway, the level of tickets sold in South Korea doesn’t seem to be any different from his last movie with Kim Min Hee (when the affair wasn’t known).

    • I guess ppl not watching the snow is because it does not have a compelling concept. Morever it sounds like a story they already know – HSS telling his own story …
      And what is there to see in the movie. A woman siting on the beach? Sounds like a boring pitch to me …..

      • I’ve seen enough of Hong Sang Soo’s movie to conclude that his movies are the most self-indulgent ones to the extent of them being his self-fantasies of man-woman relationships. The first couple that I saw gave me some fresh vibe and take on such relationships but by the last one I saw – Right Now Wrong Then, his first collaboration with KMH – I almost quit half
        -way as I thought I had seen it so many times in his previous movies.

    • Yes, he’s had movies that performed comparable or worse in the past, like Yourself and Yours last year, Hill of Freedom in 2014, Nobody’s Daughter Hae Won in 2013, In Another Country in 2012, just to name a few. Aprox 30.000 admissions in 5 days isn’t too bad, although yeah the movie might have performed better without the backstage drama and with the help of the hype from the Berlin Film Festival, but who can say for sure.

    • Yes, all his movies are low cost production without any proper set or design. It’s just a camera panning between a man and a woman in a few non-descrip indoor or outdoor settings. Being an indie and art movie lover, I can’t understand his able to get awards again and again. The first one would be understandable but not the subsequent ones.

      • Thanks PYC….
        I might give it a pass
        I might watch it on DVD but not in the cinema
        I don’t feel like giving them money for the movie …
        I know scandals are not related to the quality of acting and directing but I would like to see that they are responsible for their actions

        Kristen Stewart was apologetic to the press regarding her flirtations with the director in Snow White, though at a big cost of losing the lead part in the sequels.

        The director was also remorseful though he lost the marriage. Now Kristen is accepted and rewarded for her hard work in indie and commercial films due to her reputation being restored – as she had immediately discontinued liaisons and relationships with the director even though he is already divorced.

        If Hollywood is wary of scandals, I think it’s the same for South Korean Film industry.

  4. I like his films a lot and even rewatch them. And it doesn’t seem like the production costs are high in his films. As Pyc said above it is usually just a camera panning between actors. There is a certain something in his films that appeals to me. The loser characters, the female chracters usually are much stronger than the male ones (not a frequent occurence even in indie circuit) despite the males constantly trying to sexually expolit the females in his films -to some very funny results. I actually like the way he is both cruel and nice to his characters who seem like real people.

    I think the scandal actually helped to boost the sales in this case (maybe people are curious)

  5. As much as I hate their affair, that director is really talented, and is revered by film critics and cinema students like me. His works are arthouse, Koala you cannot expect it to be hits. And if market pundits estimated that, they are very wrong because his previous works have not done any better in the box office. But scholars and critics write books on him, a new one is gonna come out in Uni of london next year. Since when was arthouse or parallel cinema box office earners lol

    So this article is quite ignorant actually, no offense 🙂

    • This, though. His movies are never intended for commercial one, but the critics highly regard his creations. So, IMHO, his movie flopping in box office is not new. HSS himself is aware of this and if anyone watch some of his movie, you might find some of his personal rants and idealism about movie industry spouted here and there by the main characters. Obviously he didn’t care whether the mainstream audiences care about his movie or not.

  6. If these two are shunned by their nation in the future it makes sense. I mean people can say day in and out that career and personal life must be seperated but the human mind operates the same way everywhere. We never look at people the same, when we find out about their dirt. Yes all of us are flawed and sinful but we tend to hide our bad deeds for a reason. A sane society will NEVER reward shameless immoral behavior, i.e. whenever the guilty party brags about it. Which is the case here. This is a logical consequence. People will NEVER look at you the same, period. Not even your parents. A few celebs might sometimes get away with it, but in general, society is BOUND to judge you. Ask Tiger Woods.

  7. Yeah, arthouse niche films rarely even aim to be blockbuster hits so…
    Getting recognition from prestigious film festivals is much more beneficial to actors and directors like Kim Min Hee and Hong Sang Soo, whose target audience is a bit different from the regular drama/film viewers. As much as I hate cheating and affairs, their personal lives have nothing to do with their talent and professional lives. True cinephiles usually separate the maker from the art, that’s why they have no problem watching, say, Woody Allen films even if they find his private life morally ambiguous or wrong…

  8. Well, I don’t like them as people but they are talented and they aren’t exactly trying to make it in Korea. The sort of scandal Kim Min Hee has landed herself in, it’d be a while before anybody forgets about that. She might consider branching out to Hollywood now, girl’s gotta act somewhere.

    • Yep. Cause her career is pretty much dead in Korea and Asia as a whole. I find that refreshing, and both genders lose respect, not just one, despite women being far more vocal about “the other woman”. HSS might as well try to make it abroad too, his image is too tarnished to hope for a serious hit.

  9. Director Lee Chang Dong makes arthouse movies as well but his Secret Sunshine became a hit in 2007 after Jeon Do Yeon won Best Actress at Cannes for her role. That’s why pundits expected Beach to do better than Hong Sang Soo’s prior movies by a lot because Koreans are known to support their own who have achieved international level awards. In that sense Beach is a disappointment because it didn’t get the post Berlin award bump for Kim Min Hee.

    • No, it’s not.
      HHS’s movie has never done well and this is doing much better than his previous ones.
      Even Korea media said it’s doing well…
      I think this is more of your expectation, Koala.
      This isn’t a commercial movie and they never expect a BO hit but it’s doing fine being at top 10.

      • This though… I have watch some of his movies because the critics praise them all time. And honestly, while his kind of movie is not my taste, I understand why indie and arthouse movie maker praise it. They have unusually boring and static cinematography, interesting concepts with pretentious air surrounding it (LOL, sorry). But, as I stated above, his movie never do well as commercial one and never intended to be. If you know HSS philosophy of making movie, he never made them to cater to general movie goers. Some of his movies won awards before and they never do well in the cinema. Never. The same with this one.

        So, while I dislike their affair. The failure of this movie in general box office was expected. Not because of public disapprove with the affair and boycotted it.

    • Despite being very artsy LCD is not really in the same category as HSS and KKD, in my opinion (I really like LCD films he is just at a higher box office league than the others mentioned in this thread). Comparing LCD films to HSS films are bit like comparing apples to oranges – both fruit but they taste very different. Also Song Kang Ho co starred in Secret Sunshine and he is a box office draw (even more back then when the film was in cinemas).

      And I think the contraversy is actually helping this film’s box office. People, who’ll never pay to watch a HSS film otherwise, are going in to see what the fuss is all about.

      • Agree! Best comment. Controversy, good or bad makes people notice and this is what attracts people to the cinema. Since this film is doing well, then HSS should pay his first wife fairly for the divorce. His wife stuck by him all this time whilst he was chasing artsy stuff.

      • I prefer LCD and KKD movies, too. Theirs have better cinematography flair, broader topic and more gripping plot than HSS. HSS almost always use the same camera-panning technic, grumpy/awkward characters and similar topics (with some variation on plots execution).

    • Of course it’s a FLOP. You’d think that with the scandal, this stuff would have gotten more coverage, nobody cares. I live in Korea, people may gossip about his affair, but nobody cares about the movie.

      • Its not a flop. It sells usual as his other movies, even he won a lot of awards through the year. Its still top 10 since its release.

        On the Beach at Night Alone (2017) Kim Min-hee 34,925
        Yourself and Yours (2016) Kim Joo-Hyuk, Lee You-Young 17,924
        Right Now, Wrong Then (2015) Jung Jae-young, Kim Min-hee 80,684
        Hill of Freedom (2014) Ryo Kase, Moon So-ri 39,305
        Our Sunhi (2013) Jung Yu-mi, Kim Sang-joong, Lee Sun-kyun, Jung Jae-young 69,122
        Nobody’s Daughter Haewon (2013) Jung Eun-chae, Lee Sun-kyun 35,697
        In Another Country (2012) Isabelle Huppert, Yoo Jun-sang 31,143
        The Day He Arrives (2011) Yoo Jun-sang, Kim Sang-joong, Song Seon-mi, Kim Bo-kyung 46,197
        Oki’s Movie (2010) Lee Sun-kyun, Jung Yu-mi, Moon Sung-keun 37,122
        Hahaha (2010) Kim Sang-kyung, Yoo Jun-sang, Moon So-ri, Ye Ji-won 57,029
        Like You Know It All (2009) Kim Tae-woo, Uhm Ji-won, Go Hyun-jung 39,984
        Night And Day (2008) Kim Young-ho, Park Eun-hye, Hwang Soo-jung 12,346
        Woman On The Beach (2006) Kim Seung-woo, Go Hyun-jung, Song Seon-mi, Kim Tae-woo 159,711
        Tale of Cinema (2005) Kim Sang-kyung, Uhm Ji-won, Lee Ki-woo 39,555
        Woman Is The Future Of Man (2004) Yoo Ji-tae, Kim Tae-woo, Sung Hyun-ah 116,662

        My question only is how he makes money?

  10. It is indie after all. I have watched some of his films and could see why it might not cater to the majority audience. I think this article will only make sense if he was a director who had history of high grossing films, but he’s not. His popularity comes from international film festivals, and most of that audience will not know or care about their scandal. I think it won’t change much for both of them.

  11. He’s not having an affair, he is trying to be together with the woman he loves. His wife doesn’t want to divorce him so he made his love life public to avoid difficulties of his behaviour. I think it was the best way, I wouldn’t care the public’s reaction either if I was him. It was a brave act towards KMH.

    Silly wife. If a man wants to leave, let it be. It’s not the end of the world and have some pride as a woman!

    This all reminds me of Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy.He had never divorced her but well, it was for a different reason.

    • As delusional as DT. Yes, everything is lies, only HSS is the victim and is being victimised. The marriage certificate was fabricated years ago. ?

    • Exactly, I think he totally did the right thing. So sad wife can’t get grip on reality, why hold on to someone who doesn’t love you anymore? It is not like you can make him love you again. Tragedy for all!!!

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