International Box Office: Korea Again Leads Weekend; France Returns To Cinemas With A Passion


The big international box office news this week isn’t actually from the weekend — which was again led by Korea and saw continued ups and downs versus last session as moviegoers await new product. Instead, after 100 days of closure, French cinemas re-opened beginning Monday this week, and with at least 40 films programmed for the post-coronavirus walk-up of the nation’s theaters.

Some eager moviegoers didn’t even wait for Monday morning, with about 120 people heading to the 5 Caumartin cinema in the 9th arrondissement of Paris from 12:01AM on June 22 to see a sneak preview of local comedy Les Parfums. The situation was similar in Rennes, where folks also turned up at midnight to see a re-release of the Coen brothers’ The Big Lebowski.

Then from just after 9AM Monday morning, UGC’s flagship cinema in Paris, Ciné Cité Les Halles, welcomed guests for its first screenings with ticket sales reaching almost normal levels, despite the multiplex maintaining a 50% capacity limit per auditorium. According to on-the-scene reports, new title Filles De Joie (Working Girls) with Sara Forestier took the early top spot, followed by Agnieszka Holland’s biopic L’Ombre De Staline and the re-issue of Michel Gondry’s Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind. In total, the 27-screen site is understood to have taken more than 1,000 reservations for the full day.

Head of the national exhibition federation (FNCF) Marc-Olivier Sebbag, told France Info radio this week, “We are betting on the enthusiasm and motivation of audiences to return quickly” in the cinema-loving country. A Médiamétrie poll published today found that 21.7M French people plan to go to the movies over the course of the next four weeks.

Social distancing remains in place, though masks are not obligatory inside auditoria and the 50% capacity restriction is optional. At the MK2 Bibliothèque multiplex in Paris, life-sized Minions are occupying every other seat to help with distancing.

It’s estimated that the three months of cinema closures in the world’s 6th biggest box office market resulted in a loss of about 400M euros ($451M). Still, certain theaters have decided to open slightly later in the summer.

Memento Films tweeted that its La Bonne Epouse, starring Juliette Binoche, sold more than 20K tickets on Monday in 600 locations and will expand to 1,000 today (Wednesday is the traditional opening day in France). The film had previously released just before lockdown in March, and per recent estimates we’ve received has sold 41,785 tickets through today.

Figures are not yet available for all titles, however indications are that play was led by La Bonne Epouse, followed by L’Ombre De Staline (10,359 admissions/275 screens), horror pic The Demon Inside (5,500/249); dramas Filles De Joie (4,615/211) and Un Fils (2,534/198), documentary Le Capital Au XXIe Siècle (2,305/52), drama Benni (2,102/79), David Lynch’s Elephant Man (1,171/43) and Spanish-language drama Cancion Sin Nombre (676/24).

Those films and figures are only from Monday. Elsewhere, Korea again led all offshore play over the past weekend and was again powered by local titles. Italy, despite having been able to open from June 15, is still biding its time with just about 40 sites in operation. There are increases in some markets and drops in others while new product remains greatly appreciated and anticipated. In China, as we noted earlier today, there is still no timetable to coming back.

However, in a bit of more positive news, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed theaters can resume operations on July 4, with distancing down from two meters to one.

Here’s a snapshot of some markets from this past weekend

KOREA – Korea was essentially flat with the last session, at $4.05M across the Top 10 titles which were again led by Sony’s local production Innocence. The special discount offered by KOFIC ended this week, so it will be interesting to see how the box office behaves going forward. The No. 2 film was new local mystery Me And Me at $1.07M for the Thursday-Sunday session. Disney/Pixar’s Onward, which released on a non-traditional Wednesday landed in 3rd with $1.05M for the TFFS portion and cumed $1.8M through Sunday at about 1,500 locations. While including the Wednesday, Onward was No. 2 for the frame.

JAPAN – After being postponed twice due to COVID, Universal’s Doolittle spoke up for the first time in Japan this past weekend, landing No. 1 with $1.38M at 347 locations across Saturday and Sunday. Sony’s Little Women is still marching along after its earlier No. 1 debut, moving to 2nd and cuming $1.3M so far. The Top 10 did $1.48M, another huge week-on-week increase of 178%. Disney has a bunch of Marvel titles in the market that made up most of the rest of the Top 10. In total, there are about 350 locations open.

HONG KONGOnward traveled to Hong Kong for the first time this weekend, opening at No. 1 with an estimated $345K from 147 screens, the strongest start since theaters returned in early May. This is after last session’s paid sneaks, bringing the cume to $392K. Overall, a $725K session across the Top 10 was up 17% from last week.

NETHERLANDS – Local comedy Rundfunk: Jachterwachter was again No. 1 with a $105K gross from 118 cinemas. Crime thriller Line Of Duty made its debut at No. 2 with $82K from 89 locations and animated Russian pic The Big Trip was also a new entry in 3rd place. The Top 10 did $565K, down about 2% from last session.

GERMANY – An 8% drop across the Top 10 titles to $386K is reflective of no new movies hitting the market in the past few weeks. Warner’s Nightlife is still No. 1 with a $10.9M cume to date. The rest of the top grouping is similar to last frame. There are an estimated 200 cinemas open, and overall the market was down 52% versus the same weekend last year.

TAIWAN – With $361K from the Top 10, Taiwan saw a 5% increase over the last frame. Onward was No. 1 in its 5th session, dipping just 21% for a cume of $1.3M through Sunday. Danis Tanovic’s The Postcard Killings made its debut at No. 2 with $88K from 75 locations. This is a market whose cinemas never closed, so new product will be key in keeping momentum. The coming frame is a long weekend and Jeffrey Chan, who is EVP of Bona Film Group, said during a Cannes panel today that his company has teamed with the local Health Minister for a big campaign. “He’s more popular than the president here, so let’s see what happens with the bookings for this weekend.”

NEW ZEALAND – Another weekend of increases for the Kiwis with $246K across the Top 10 repping a 34% uptick from last session. Love Sarah popped back into the No. 1 spot with an $80K weekend at 82 cinemas. Last week’s winner, The Trip To Greece, came in 2nd at $34K from 78.

AUSTRALIA – Oz’s Top 10 also fell again, down about 6% versus last session to $150K. Play continues to be led by Universal/Blumhouse’s The Invisible Man, now with a local cume of $5.4M. Again, the top films are comparable to last week’s frame. There are about 25 locations open in total. Russell Crowe-starrer Unhinged is pegged to July 16.

SPAIN – With more cinemas getting back to business, an estimated 60 are now working, double that of last session. So, Spain again saw a healthy week-on-week increase, this time with the Top 10 at $104K (+63%). Onward was tops again with an added $25K from 66 sites. The local cume is now $2.03M.

ITALY – While cinemas were allowed to open on June 15, many have opted to wait a beat meaning there are only a slight 40 venues playing movies. The Top 10 did $66K, led by International Feature Oscar nominee Les Misérables with $22K from 42. The Lucky Red release was new to the market and was followed by Italian drama Bad Tales with $13K from 17.

UAE – With Dubai still the only Emirate open, numbers were about $65K from the Top 10 this session. Onward jumped into the No. 1 slot, followed by Bloodshot, Sonic The Hedgehog, The Gentlemen and Knives Out again in the Top 5 in terms of ticket sales. Horror pic The Wretched will be new next week, followed by Unhinged the following week.

NORWAY – This weekend, admissions were up again, to 23,610, which is about 15% of a normal weekend. That was helped by two new releases: Brahms: The Boy 2, which came in 2nd behind Onward, and Japanese hit Weatherng With You in 4th. Weather was rainy, which helped get folks to the cinemas at a 245% increase over last weekend.

ICELANDThe Last Fishing Trip continues to lead the local box office, dropping 44% from last weekend and now with a cume of $322K through Sunday. Dave Bautista-starrer My Spy entered the market at No. 2 with about $8K from five screens. Other films making up the Top 5 include Onward, Inception and The King Of Staten Island. Overall, the market did about $30K from the Top 10, down 32% from last weekend.

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