December 13, 2006


Anticipating the round of "Host" inspired headlines that are bound to break out like a rash once this flick comes to America in March, 2007 the title of this post is my own lame attempt at same. Forgive me.

But a sharp-eyed reader writes in to point out that THE HOST is not doing that well overseas. The numbers, please:

THE HOST sold to Japan for US$4.7 million. So far it has only made about half that money at the box office since its release back in September.

Over in the land of the baguette, THE HOST opened on 223 screens, more than even JET LI'S FEARLESS or 2046. After two weeks it has sold  134, 368 tickets which isn't bad, but it also isn't that great for a movie which is on so many screens.

United Kingdom
Opening on 45 screens (more than either INFERNAL AFFAIRS or BATTLE ROYALE), THE HOST has made US$247,466 after four weeks. Not bad, frankly, but INFERNAL AFFAIRS made $526,983 and BATTLE ROYALE made $369,613. On less screens.

The upshot is that THE HOST isn't living up to expectations outside of Korea. It's still a good, heck it's a great, movie. But for some reason it can't seem to get that blockbuster traction at the box office. I wonder if this kind of damp reception around the world is going to temper Magnolia's fever for the film?

December 13, 2006 at 08:06 AM in News | Permalink


Always interesting to see how other countries react, but not sure how they relate to the US potential. Compared with the UK, for example, BATTLE ROYALE never got released in the US, and INFERNAL AFFAIRS only got, what, one or two weeks in NYC? (And neither of those could be marked as "monster movies.") Is Magnolia planning a wide release?

Posted by: Peter Martin | Dec 13, 2006 11:30:53 AM

Alternatively, THE HOST looks to be doing well in Malaysia. (It helps that it's opened during the long school vacation period.) Also, besides attracting crowds, what I find interesting -- and good -- is that it appears to be attracting a multi-ethnic crowd (a la Hollywood movies but less so, say, Indian along with most Malaysian and Chinese films) over here.

Posted by: YTSL | Dec 13, 2006 12:47:53 PM

Not to oversimplify it but, I think these unimpressive numbers are due to lack of awareness. Your average movie-goer does not spend 15+ minutes a day surfing various movie sites and blogs. I work with over a 100+ people and I'll be damned if I find one who knows anything about Asian cinema....including Asians. A good Internet buzz for a film does not necessarily translate into commercial success, especially if it's a foreign film. I remember when Miramax decided to go all out for Zhang Yimou's Hero. It was a TV marketing blitz that no human could dodge. From my recollection, the movie grossed about 53 million dollars. And I would hardly classify Hero as an umissable classic.

Posted by: Marten | Dec 13, 2006 1:12:36 PM

Here in Singapore Korean TV drama is terribly popular, but when I tried to get people to watch The Host, their near-unanimous reaction was "A Korean monster movie? No thanks." It seems to me that the cast (especially Song Kang Ho) may be the darlings of the websites and blogs, but aren't exactly big stars in many parts of Asia. I also get the feeling that the average Singaporean movie-goer, familiar only with Korean melodrama and rom-coms, and believing that only Hollywood monster movies like Jurassic Park and King Kong are worth watching, may have found the very idea of The Host a bit of a turn-off. My conclusion is that The Host doesn't actually have a lot going for it -- which is a long way from my initial internet-fuelled expectation that it was going to be a huge international hit -- and therefore could do with much more concerted and careful promotion outside Korea.

That said, it's a wonderful movie, and I'm just glad I managed to see it on the big screen. TWICE.

Posted by: owlet | Dec 14, 2006 6:43:09 AM

The King and the Crown started with 10th at the Japanese box office this week,and Welcome to Tongmakol
stayed on top 10 for one week at 8th,last month.

I gotta tell y'all Korean wave is in a serious mess here in the land of rising sun.

Housewives flocks to the stupid tearjerkers and movie goers ignore the masterpiece?

Though The Host was not a big success in Japan,those
who saw the film were quite impressed with the talent of
Bong,but still..life is sometimes so unfair.

Posted by: Aceface | Dec 14, 2006 7:19:40 AM

The people who line up to see Jurassic Park 3 or Anaconda and the people who line up to see your average subtitled release in America are worlds apart.

I tried desperately to subsidize a ride to the closest theater playing Nightwatch last year, five people turned me down for a free ticket because they had no interest in a Russian fantasy film.

I know I'm not that unpleasent to be around. For a great many people, subtitled films of any sort are an aquired taste that many people don't bother to aquire.

I would imagine its similar around the world. We've seen countless me-too Hollywood similar productions around the world tank in their own respective countries and elsewhere.

I'm guessing that people don't trust other nations to produce films outside their comfort zone all that often. That's my hypothesis at least.

Posted by: Max K. | Dec 14, 2006 9:41:33 AM

"Here in Singapore Korean TV drama is terribly popular, but when I tried to get people to watch The Host, their near-unanimous reaction was "A Korean monster movie? No thanks.""

I wonder if a Hollywood style, slickly-cut trailer, with a couple of money shots, that played ad nauseam on public TV would've convinced them that this is just as technically-refined as any big budget Hollywood film. It just saddens me that many gems like The Host are grossly overlooked and your typical run-of-the-mill hollywood tripe gets all the glory.....just because they have the marketing cash to shove it down people's throats.

Posted by: Marten | Dec 14, 2006 12:29:48 PM

I saw The Host twice and I thought it was superb how Bong managed to include so many elements into a normal length film (compared to so many indulgent directors who make three-hour movies these days). It was funny, it was touching and yes, it was even scary at times. But its main fault was, I think, a weak name that couldn't possibly build up any expectations, and poor marketing.

Posted by: Chung-o | Dec 15, 2006 3:10:30 AM

How bad was the publicity for THE HOST? Well, I knew that it had a monster in it and had been a box office hit in South Korea...but I didn't realize until I viewed the movie and then got on the internet to read reviews, etc. of it that its director also had helmed MEMORIES OF MURDER and BARKING DOGS NEVER BITE! *And* it was with a jolt of shock as well as recognition while viewing the movie at the cinema that I realized that it starred Song Kang-ho (who is one of the Korean actors I most respect) and Bae Doo-na (one of my favorite Korean actresses)!!

Still, I figure that I was in a better position than quite a few fellow members of the audience who, as the monster appeared on screen, could be heard whispering -- and in some cases, saying aloud -- that they had thought that THE HOST was a ghost movie (since their thinking appeared to be that "Korean movie which gets time in local cinemas" = horror/ghost movie).

In other words: Come on publicists for the movie, do more and better!!!

Posted by: YTSL | Dec 15, 2006 3:25:07 AM

I wonder if this is a case of publicists overestimating the power of the internet, thinking that their work had already been done for them by the aficionados in their websites/blogs.

Posted by: owlet | Dec 15, 2006 5:04:31 AM

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