Exactly what factor defines a box office success? Star power is an element you can’t ignore if you want the movie to succeed at the box office.
Here is a list of top box office stars according to the official statistics released by the Korean Film Council. The findings are from the Korean Film Almanac for years 1971 to 2010. From 2011, data collected from the Film Council’s computer network was used to measure the findings. The total number of viewers/tickets from the movies these actors acted in were used to determine this list of box office stars.
10. Ahn Sung Ki (39,833,441 viewers)
9. Choi Min Shik (40,859,388 viewers)
8. Jung Jae Young (49,819,044 viewers)
7. Kim Yoon Suk (49,965,687 viewers)
6. Lee Jung Jae (51,586,615 viewers)
5. Ha Jung Woo (56,801,630 viewers)
4. Hwang Jung Min (58,721,711 viewers)
Hwang Jung Min has enjoyed huge success with “Ode to My Father” and “Veteran.”
3. Sol Kyung Gu (62,984,832 viewers)
Sol Kyung Gu’s hit movies include “Haeundae,” “Silmido,” and more.
2. Ryu Seung Ryong (64,971,576 viewers)
Ryu Seung Ryong comes in at number two. He was in three of the biggest Korean blockbusters ever. They’re “Gwanghae: The Man Who Became King,” “Miracle in Cell No. 7,” and “The Admiral: Roaring Currents.” His status as a box office star has speedily grown since 2010.
1. Song Kang Ho (74,736,952 viewers)
Song Kang Ho tops the list as the one who embodies such star power that guarantees a box office success. Although “Howling” and “Hindsight” didn’t do too well at the box office, he more than made up for it with “Snowpiercer,” “The Face Reader,” and “The Attorney” in 2013. The accumulative number of viewers for his movies are more than 70 million. His next movie “The Throne” is expected to hit big during the upcoming Chuseok holiday season.
Among the top ten actors on this list, Ha Jung Woo is the only actor in his thirties and Ahn Sung Ki is the oldest on the list. Meanwhile, Oh Dal Soo has been in many of the hit movies mentioned above as a supporting actor. However, he has yet to enter the top ten. Perhaps this will change in coming years.
Choi Geun Ha who works for Showbox, one of the largest Korean film distribution companies, says, “There’s no such thing as unconditional star power. The viewers trust in the acting abilities of actors like Song Kang Ho, Ryu Seung Ryong, Sol Kyung Gu, Hwang Jung Min, Ha Jung Woo, and others. For instance, viewers give Song Kang Ho credit for selecting and acting in a particular movie. They know he’s a great actor, so they watch with great expectations.”
CEO Kang Hye Jung, who produced “Berlin” and “Veteran,” commented, “When the director is able to effectively communicate his intent to the actor, the whole system works.”
CEO Ahn Soo Hyun, who produced “The Thieves” and “Assassination,” says, “Yes, star power definitely plays a role. But no movie becomes a hit just because a certain actor is in it. If the viewers like the work of a certain actor, they’re more interested in the movie they star in. And the basis of that interest comes from the actor’s ability to deliver great performance.”
As for actresses, the top six were revealed.
6. Han Hyo Joo (approx. 24,530,000 viewers)
5. Uhm Jung Hwa (31,573,965 viewers)
4. Ha Ji Won (33,108,412 viewers)
Ha Ji Won still came in at fourth place even though she didn’t have much success in the box office in the last five years.
3. Son Ye Jin (33,172,311 viewers)
Son Ye Jin takes third place with her success in “The Pirates.”
2. Kim Hye Soo (38,450,993 viewers)
Some of Kim Hye Soo’s box office hits include “Tazza” and “The Thieves.”
1. Jun Ji Hyun (38,930,499 viewers)
Jun Ji Hyun beat Kim Hye Soo by a minor margin due to her recent success in “The Thieves” and “Assassination.”
CEO Ahn Soo Hyun adds, “I think the public demands something more fresh from actresses compared to actors. The viewers become explosively enthusiastic when an actress shows a new unexpected side to her acting style.” She also emphasizes, “The reason they get first choices in selecting scripts is because we trust that they can carry the part they’re offered. No matter the box office and star power, if the actress doesn’t fit the role she plays, it doesn’t work. That’s when great expectations turn into disappointments.”
What do you think about these results? Did your favorite actors and actresses make the list?