July 19, 2024
News Korean Film

“Following”: Against All Odds, A Mid-Budget Korean Film Finds Success

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Following Against All Odds A Mid Budget Korean Film Finds Success

The Korean film industry is a tough landscape, especially for mid-budget films. Distributor nervousness surrounding “Following” stemmed from two factors: the ongoing box office momentum of “The Roundup: Punishment” and the unexpected success of the Japanese animation “Haikyu!! The Dumpster Battle”. Despite an insignificant opening, however, “Following” has become a quiet success story.

Directed by rookie filmmaker Kim Se-hwi and starring Byun Yo Han, Shin Hye Sun, Lee El. “Following” defied expectations by reaching 1 million viewers, becoming the 5th Korean film of 2024 to achieve this feat. This accomplishment is particularly noteworthy considering the film’s challenges:

  • Poor reviews from distributors at preview screenings
  • A story that doesn’t follow traditional box office formulas
  • The absence of big-name stars like Son Seok-goo or Kang Dong-won
  • Distribution by Content Geo, a small-scale distributor

These factors resulted in limited screen allocation compared to bigger budget films.

Kim Seong-cheol, head of production company Engine Film, outlined a unique strategy to counter the initial challenges:

“I strategized to keep the number of seats the same and run it for a long time by maintaining the seat sales rate even if we only get 600,000 to 700,000 seats, which is the maximum for a mid-budget film, because these days theaters quickly reduce the number of screens if the seat sales rate is low.”

This strategy relied on positive word-of-mouth from the target audience of young adults in their 20s and 30s.

The Power of Word-of-Mouth

Following” never reached the top spot at the box office, but it consistently maintained a high seat sales rate, even during weeks when bigger films were released. This success aligns with the post-pandemic trend of audience word-of-mouth playing a more significant role.

The production company and distributor capitalized on this trend by:

  • Scheduling audience dialogues with Byo Chang-won, a popular talk show guest, instead of film critics
  • Hosting interactive stage greetings with lead actors Shin Hye-sun and Byun Yo-han

These efforts helped maintain momentum and build a connection with younger audiences.

Following” joins “Citizen of a Kind,” “Exhuma,” “The Roundup: Punishment,” and “Alienoid: Return to the Future” as Korean films with over 1 million viewers in the first half of 2024. With over 1.14 million viewers as of June 10th and approaching its break-even point of 1.25 million, “Following” stands as a testament to the power of word-of-mouth and innovative marketing strategies in a competitive market.

The Korean film industry is experiencing increasing market polarization, where big-budget films dominate and mid-budget films struggle. The success of “She Died” and “Citizen Deaky” offers a glimmer of hope.

Shin Yoo-kyung, CEO of the film industry, commented on the film’s significance:

“While securing seats is still important and the market favors big films, there is a positive aspect in that word-of-mouth from audiences after Corona is opening up new opportunities for mid-budget films.”

Her words highlight the potential for innovative marketing and audience connection to create opportunities for mid-budget films, even in a challenging market.

Hi! I'm Lovely Rose, and I'm a huge fan of Korean dramas and K-pop. But my interests go beyond fandom – I also love reading novels and writing. However, here I want to write about dramas and K-pop music, That's what brings me here!

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