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The Thieves tops all-time domestic box office

I didn’t know if it would happen despite an explosive start, but on October 2, caper film The Thieves finally broke out into the front of the pack, topping the all-time Korean domestic box office chart at number one. The Host has held the top spot since 2006, with a grand total of 13,019,740 tickets sold over 106 days in theaters. But in just 70 days, The Thieves clocked in 13,020,393 tickets to claim the lead.

Along with the congratulatory news, there’s also an interesting bit of backlash about how the distributors for big films like this one are essentially buying the audience by taking up the lion’s share of screens in every theater, which is an argument I find rather silly. Movies are a distribution game, which means by its very nature, you throw an insane amount of money at it to buy your audience through publicity and access. The little indie film that finds its own audience despite that is definitely to be lauded, for sure, but arguing that money shouldn’t factor into a money game is kinda moot.

One thing that makes the Korean box office such a clean game, in fact, is that everything is counted by the number of tickets, rather than profit. In Hollywood there’s no clean measure for all-time box office, so I’m a big fan of counting the number bodies you actually get into a theater, rather than accounting for the price difference between a ticket in Seoul and in the countryside, or the price of a ticket in 1960 versus now. There’s a lot to be said for knowing that first place means first place without a conversion formula involved.

The record for highest ticket sales in international films is still held by Avatar, which sold over 13.6 million tickets in Korea. That’s a lot of tickets to sell if The Thieves wants to be an all-chart topper, though I suppose that’s the thing about breaking records — as soon as you break one, the next milepost is automatically your next goal.

There were already kisses and piggybacks from the cast when the film hit 10 million, but I think overthrowing the No. 1 spot calls for something bigger. When’s Lee Jung-jae going to be handing out kisses? I think I know a few people who’d buy a ticket or three hundred for that.

Via KBS News, Money Today

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LOL, and now I'm all torn. I'm all for SK pride but on the other side Mr James Cameron is my favorite Director. Loyalty, loyalty...
Can we have a JC movie with Korean actors? That would be awesome.

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I need to watch this movie asap! give me any link to download, please.. can't watched on screen anymore:'(

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unless you want a bootleg version (which is incredibly hard to find) without subs, you'll have to wait until it comes out on DVD sometime next year. even then, subs aren't guaranteed :(

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How were the reviews for this movie? I don't remember much critical buzz but I may not have paid enough attention.

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Sorry...rooting for Avatar the blue people lol. That movie completes me and my wildest fantasy. I thought I was in a dream the first time I watch it. None that can replace that not even the next Avatar.

Thank you JB, I feel like I'm back at Box-office Mojo (site for the movie nerds).

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ha ha ha i think JB can buy 1000 for the kisses !

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Hated friggin Avatar. :) Yay for Thieves! I hope it's as good as the tickets sales say. Can't wait til I get to see it. Might be a while. Ha.

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Thank you for sharing my dislike for Avatar, i always thought it's overrated: the graphic effects are pretty awesome but the plot is just full of cliches that i particulary hate.
I'm with the korean way of calculating the box office of a good movie, now that the prices are way different between a normal, a 3D and a IMAX theater. It's not the price but the quantity of views that go to see you film. The Thieves, FTW!!! :)

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Avatar is blue Pocahontas with technology

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And Atlantis, the lost city or whatever. That Disney movie.

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and Ferngully

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and Princess Mononoke

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That explains why i couldn't watch it. I watched a bootlegged version of it and couldn't get halfway through the movie

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I refused to watch Avatar when it came out and even if my brother bought the dvd, was still not interested. Come to think of it, I also didn't watch Titanic when it premiered, but I did watch a bad copy (bootlegged) of it since I was hanging out at a VHS/VCD store at that time. ;)

I also wish they'd count by the tickets not by the $ amount when they say box office hit.

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Its obvious that epic fantasy genre is not your thing. It is a box office hit regardless of number of tickets sold or total domestic/overseas gross.
"Gone With The Win" is still the winner after adjusted ticket price inflations in the US.
I'm a fan of cinema and I watch a lot of movies because its something I enjoy. The US critics can be brutal so I avoid Rotten Tomatoes tilll I watch it first because in the end it doesnt matter to me whether Roger Ebert liked or not.

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Hmm... Is really that good? I never did care about movies that deals with heist unless it has a great storyline to go with it. I'm glad they broke all time record tho. ^^

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Aaaaand The Thieves will start screening in LA next week

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Oooh....maybe they'll make it up the coast into one of our indie theaters....that would be awesome!

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already watch it in the cinema, love the action scene.

compared to avatar?
well, avatar is deeeep in plot-wise, while thieves...well...theft *grin*
no more comment coz i'm not giving spoilers

for those planning to watch it,enjoy it ;)

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Avatar isn't deep plot-wise. It's quite cliché really.

Not that I think The Thieves will be any more daring plot-wise (for that I would recommend the heist movie Argentinian Nine Queens).

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Avatar deep? It's just a remake of Pocahontas, Dances with Wolves, The last Samurai and Ferngully.

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FERNGULLY!!!!!!!

I think I loved that movie as much as my daughter did. We kept saying all through Avatar 'but this is...didn't Ferngully do...'

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Ferngully ?
wahahahahahahaaha love your comment. So true about Ferngully
If it wasn't for the art direction Avatar would have been like any other movie you mention, very small plot line there.

cheers, parsnip

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OMG, Ferngully!! that Avatar is so it, LOL

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Must be the only person who hasn't seen Avatar yet.

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I haven't watched it either ...

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Me too.

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Nah, I haven't either. It's just a big jumble of cliches with blue people.

I'd much rather watch Titanic haha

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I'm still waiting for this to premier in the US! Gah

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Me, me, buy tickets for LJJ kisses!!!!

Does that mean I get one or two, too?

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LMFAO...JB's the one that wants LJJ isn't it?

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Also want to add...so Well Go USA got the distribution rights for this in the US..doea anyone know where else (other than LA) it might be screened...NY?

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"There’s also an interesting bit of backlash about how the distributors for big films like this one are essentially buying the audience by taking up the lion’s share of screens in every theater, which is an argument I find rather silly. Movies are a distribution game, which means by its very nature, you throw an insane amount of money at it to buy your audience through publicity and access. The little indie film that finds its own audience despite that is definitely to be lauded, for sure, but arguing that money shouldn’t factor into a money game is kinda moot."

I find this depressing and I don't feel it's a black & white as you lay it out (no offense), but I'm obviously biased since I go to indie screenings all the time, watch some awesome movies and find it really, really sad that there are only a handful of other people in the cinema with me. Not because people don't want to see the film or wouldn't think it is good, but because everyone is intent on going to see the 'it' film that's screening in 15 theatres across the city. (Plus, people are largely unaware that anything else is screening, because the media mostly reviews the blockbusters.)

Btw, I will go see The Thieves (I'm guessing it will screen at the London Koran Film Festival, perhaps even as the opening film).

:-(

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typos galore today, arrrrgh.

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in the end it's always about money.
However, there are some indie movies who made it big despite lacking the budget of the big ones and which made profit multiple the amount of their production costs.
it's really not predictable.

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I didn't know this movie was still playing in theaters. That seems like a loooong time.

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ooh, I'll definitely have to put this on my list...Lee Jung-jae is so handsome! Saw him in The Housemaid, which is a creepy drama/thriller that freaked me out at the end, but the whole movie was pretty sexy, with plenty of LJJ eye-candy!

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For those that did saw this, is it like "Ocean Eleven"?

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somehow like Ocean Eleven, but 'more complicated' since they do work together, but don't trust each other..

I have watched it in our local cinema ( am from Indonesia btw ), me and my friend were the only Indonesian in the theater, the others were Koreans...so we were started to worry that the movie wouldn't have subtitles! haha

It was fun, slick movie. Nothing's grand, but I enjoyed it, and my only complain is..it needs more Kim Soohyun!

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oh...really?
i watched The Thieves during my summer holidays in Korea but imho, it' not THAT impressive @[email protected]
i'd say I root for Avatar anytime!
ah.. .and The Host is better too...!

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this!

me and my other friends were a bit disappointed after watching the thieves.

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I've watched it couple of week ago in HK and it was awesome,better than ocean's eleven ;)(just my opinion) I don't need brad pitt,Kim soo hyun is far more attractive :D

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Ocean 11 was the best of the 3. Ocean 12 and 13 were so so. I think if the casts werent close friends and having a blast working together they wouldn't have made the last 2.
You are comparing a kid to a man half his age.

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I meant Pitt is 48 and KSH is about 24.

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13 million tickets is pretty incredible considering Korea is a country of 50 million so around a quarter of the nation went to see it in the theaters. You rarely see that number in the US because that would mean approximately $700 - $750 million depending on average ticket price.

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It's screening in Malaysia in a couple of weeks. Can't wait - was almost sure I won't get to see it here. :D

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why is it screening in other countries..why can't it screen in our country?? lol i wanna watch this!

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wer r u from?

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Same thoughts... I'm from Hungary but well we have a Korean Cultural Centre (btw they are teaching hangul and the language free) where once in a month we can see a movie but they are sometimes from 3-4 years ago and not exactly the best ones.

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cheers to The Thieves... love all the actors here... esp... Lee Ju ehrm... i'd go for my loves Kim Soo Hyun to be safe. :)

i hope they'd top avatar, it's always a good thing for locals to top the local chart is it? wishng more will watch them on wide screen.

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Saw it in the Toronto Intl Film Festival last month and enjoyed it, except that Kim Soo Hyun's part was much smaller that I would have thought. It was a fun caper/double and triple-cross film with solid actors, especially great female leads and a lot of humor, but there's a reason why Pieta (Cannes Palm D'Or winner also screened in Toronto) is the auteur film S. Korea entered for Oscar consideration instead of a crowd-pleaser like The Thieves. One nitpick: the con men and women in the film are supposed to be at the top of their game and internationally savvy, speaking several languages in the course of the film. For the scenes where some of the actresses speak English, they didn't get a native speaker to vet the syntax, and so there are some awkward lines delivered that were all the more jarring because they were subtitled in English as spoken.

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