MOVIES | By Todd Cunningham on March 23, 2015 @ 5:41 pm
In South Korea the movie “Kingsman: The Secret Service” is a cultural phenomenon and record-breaking $40 million box office smash, out-grossing the super spies — like James Bond and Jason Bourne — that it spoofs.
Just as mind-boggling are the unlikely factors powering its breakout, seized upon by clever and opportunistic Fox marketers who have pulled off a media coup.
To become Fox’s biggest hit in Korea since “Avatar,” the movie capitalized on a spate of recent high-profile beat-downs of poor Koreans, the bizarre mid-air meltdown of a Korean Air executive’s daughter and the country’s fascination with British dandies — perfectly personified in “Kingsman” by Colin Firth as the suave and stylish agent Harry Hart.
“We decided to take advantage of this and made three viral videos similar to real-life incidents to promote the film,” said Tom Oh, one of Fox’s top men in Korea. “Everything came together to create a massive hit.”
“Kingsman,” an action adventure adapted from the Mark Millar-Dave Gibbons comic book “The Secret Service,” has been a hit just about everywhere for Fox.
It has grossed $114 million domestically since it opened with a surprising $41.7 million against “Fifty Shades of Grey” over the Presidents Day weekend. It also has brought in $180 million at the foreign box office, and it will add to that figure when it opens in China this weekend. But for “Kingsman,” there’s been nothing like South Korea, which ranks as its No. 1 market abroad.
“The national mood at the time of release was one of strong dissatisfaction for politicians and the super-rich, like the second- and third-generation children of chebol (business families),” said Oh. “The most hated was the vice-chairwoman of Korean Air, whose abusive tantrum towards the flight attendants and forcing the plane to return to the gate put her behind bars.”