‘No Time to Die’: James Bond Opens on Top of Korea Box Office

James Bond franchise film “No Time to Die” opened in top spot at the box office in South Korea on Wednesday. But the opening score on its commercial debut won’t require a rewrite of the local record books.

According to data from Kobis (Kofic), the film earned $663,000 (KRW785million) from 104,000 ticket purchases. This was achieved through 3,937 screenings and represented 62% of Wednesday’s box office total.

The “No Time to Die” numbers look decently solid in a market that in pre-COVID times was the world’s fourth largest (only behind North America, China and Japan), but which has suffered an only stuttering return to life since the pandemic. We will have more information over the weekend.

Health restrictions are likely to stay in place for at least two more weeks, as new COVID infections have been running at over 2000 per day for the last five days. Greater Seoul has been under Level 4 conditions, the highest under the country’s four-level system, since July. These conditions limit the cinema’s hours and capacity. The rest of the country is at Level 3.

Further analysis points to 27% of Wednesday’s total coming from Seoul and 3.8% from Imax screens. The film was distributed by Universal Pictures International Korea. It is available in 4D digital, 4D digital, ScreenX, Dolby Cinema and Imax formats.

The Bond franchise has never been the strongest performer in Korea, and Universal’s 2015 “Spectre” was weaker than 2012 “Skyfall” from Sony.

“Skyfall” sold 202,000 tickets on its opening day, worth KRW1.51 billion ($1.28 million at today’s exchange rates), leading to a lifetime score of 2.37 million spectators and a gross of KRW17.5 billion ($14.8 million at today’s exchange rates).

“Spectre” The first day saw 188,000 ticket sales. Its gross was KRW1.45billion ($1.22m at current exchange rate). After that, it went on to have a lifetime record of 1.82m spectators. This resulted in a final box office total of KRW14.2billion ($12 million at current currency rates).

In general, the Korean public continues to be nervous about a mass return of movie theaters. After a brief spike in the box office for the Chuseok holidays (Korean thanksgiving), the numbers plummeted to their lowest level in three months during the weekend.

Some venues have shut down permanently, and many of the most popular Korean films have been delayed or canceled. This has caused supply side problems in the industry.

The trend towards streaming to mobile and home is also normalizing. WiseApp, an industry tracker, estimated that Netflix had earned $68 million in Korea in August. This is more than the $64 million aggregate national theatrical grosses (KRW76.3 trillion) in the same month. WiseApp estimated that Netflix’s subscription base in Korea has now reached 5.14 million, compared with 3.16 million a year earlier.

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