Box Office Korea - Jan 22 ~ Jul 22
The pandemic greatly impacted the cinema industry all over the world, and Korea was no exception. The number of moviegoers plummeted to 75% in 2020 and the trend continued in 2021 with a record-low year. Even implementing sanitary measures at the end of 2021 wasn't enough to make the cinema strive again and we must have waited for a omplete lift in the measures in June to see life go back to the theatres! Here is the list of the top 10 most viewed movies in Korea in 2022 at the time I write this article (July 19).
1. The Roundup
Synopsis: The ‘Beast Cop’ MA Seok-do heads to Vietnam to extradite a suspect, but soon after his arrival, he discovers additional murder cases and hears about a vicious killer who has been committing crimes against tourists for several years. To catch an unprecedented criminal, Detective MA and his team must go the extra mile!
Comments: This is THE Korean blockbuster of the year, the sequel of ‘The Outlaws’ debuted in May just after the COVID restricitions lift. This was the first blockbuster to be released to a large scale this year and the effort paid off! It quickly became the 10th highest-grossing Korean movie of all times in terms of entries and the 3rd in terms of revenues.
Release Date: May 18, 2022
2. Top Gun: Maverick
Synopsis: After three decades of service in the Air Force, Maverick is a test pilot for new aircrafts. He is mandated to train an elite group of aviators for a dangerous mission. Things will be proven harder than he expected.
Comments: We wrote a full article about this right here.
Release Date: Jun 22, 2022
3. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness
Synopsis: Doctor Strange teams up with a mysterious teenage girl who can travel across multiverses, they will have to face the biggest threat the different universes have ever seen. But the enemy might be closer than we think.
Comments: This Marvel mega production had some interesting features in that it was directed by Sam Raimi, which mainly made horror movies. His trademark could be seen from time to time, however the whole plot fell short for me, especially because of the motivations of the villain were a bit underwhelming because it didn't justify their actions. So overall it was an entertaining movie at times but I did not especially enjoy it.
Release Date: May 04, 2022
4. Jurassic World: Dominion
Synopsis: Four years after the destruction of Isla Nublar, dinosaurs now live and hunt alongside humans all over the world. This fragile balance will reshape the future and determine, once and for all, whether human beings are to remain the apex predators on a planet they now share with history's most fearsome creatures.
Comments: This is the sixth movie of the Jurassic franchise and what people seem to take back from it is that it forgot why the first movies were so loved, it became a regular blockbuster without a "real soul". The movie received a 5.8 rating on IMDB, an all time low for the franchise.
Release Date: Jun 01, 2022
5. The Witch: Part 2. The Other One
Comments: After the huge success of The Witch: Part 1 fans were waiting for this prequel but after it came out most were agreeing that the first movie was better. However the world building seems fine and the series could hold good surprises in the future.
Release Date: Jun 15, 2022
6. Thor: Love and Thunder
Synopsis: After the terrible events unravelling in Avengers: Endgame, Thor embarks on a journey unlike anything he's ever faced: a quest for inner peace. However, his retirement gets interrupted by Gorr the God Butcher, a galactic killer who seeks the extinction of the gods.
Comments: This new instalment of the Thor story follows the style and humour of Taika Waikiki like the one we could see in ‘Thor: Ragnarok’. According to the reviews this movie is even more fun and crazy than the previous ones, some love it and some don't, it's up to you to make your choice!
Release Date: Jul 06, 2022
7. Spider-Man: No Way Home
Comments: Despite being released last year in the middle of the pandemic Sipder-Man: No Way Home benefited from a tremendous hype and became a huge success worldwide. It introduced the multiverse in the MCU and brought back loved characters from previous instalments.
Release Date: Dec 15, 2021
8. The Pirates: The Last Royal Treasure
Comments: This Korean action comedy movie was a fresh release around the end of the pandemic, it came out as a spiritual sequel of the 2014 movie The Pirates. If you missed it you can now stream it on Netflix and have a laugh at this family-friendly adventure.
Release Date: Jan 26, 2022
9. Decision To Leave
Comments: We already covered this movie in an article that you can find here. Since then I had the chance to see the movie and I highly liked it, the movie is separated in two chapters and they whole thing is beautiful. From the acting to the soundtrack and the photography Park Chanwook offered us yet another amazing piece of art.
Release Date: Jun 29, 2022
Synopsis: The owner of a laundromat and his friend run an illegal business together: they steal babies from a church's baby box and sell them on the adoption black market. But things take an unexpected turn when a young mother discovers their secret.
Comments: This movie was also awarded at Cannes for the work of its main actor Song Kangho (Parasite, A taxi driver, Thirst,…).
Release Date: Jun 08, 2022
How is Korean Cinema so Big?
As you can see 5 of these entries are Korean movies while the biggest French movie of the year in France was the comedy “Maison de Retraite” (Retirement Home) at the 10th place. And you can find a similar setup in most European countries. So it is quite impressive how Korean movies manage to compete with American super productions and even get exported internationally. Part of the reason might be the quota rule in place since the 60's that guarantees that all theatres must at least feature 73 days of domestic films per year. This method also has its limits but it at least ensures that Korean moviemakers will have a chance to get featured and to succeed, for more information check this article on Foreign Policy. And of course Korea has really talented actors and directors that shine the light to their country.