|Signs show screening times for "Avatar: The Way of Water" in a theater in central Seoul, Jan. 15. The sci-fi film drew over 10 million viewers in Korea as of Tuesday. Yonhap|
By Kim Rahn
"Avatar: The Way of Water" has drawn more than 10 million viewers in Korea as of Tuesday, 42 days after its opening, according to the Korea Film Council and Walt Disney Company Korea.
It is the first foreign film to surpass the 10-million mark since the COVID-19 pandemic started. Among Korean films, "The Roundup" sold some 12.69 million tickets in 2022
It reached the 5-million mark in 12 days, at a faster pace than the 2009 original, "Avatar," which amassed 5 million filmgoers in 15 days, but attained the 10-million mark later than the original, at 42 days compared to 38 days.
With the original and the sequel, James Cameron has become the first foreign director to draw over 10 million moviegoers each for two of his hit films here.
"I was really touched by everyone's support and love," Cameron said in a video posted on 20th Century Studios Korea's YouTube channel, Tuesday. "It will be an unforgettable present for us from the Korean fans," actress Sigourney Weaver said.
Film industry observers believe the visual imagery afforded by cutting-edge technologies maximizes the cinematic experience, something not easily felt through OTT services, and thus movie fans continue to be drawn to theaters.
They predict the sequel may not bring in as many viewers in total as the original, at 13.62 million, but its sales will surpass those of the original, at 128.4 billion won ($104 million) ― partly because ticket prices have been hiked since 2009 and partly because viewers for "Avatar 2" have preferred premium theaters like 3-D, 4-D, Screen X and IMAX, despite higher ticket prices, for the greater cinematic experience. According to CGV, one of the largest theater chains here, 65.1 percent of viewers watched the film in premium theaters.