[FOUNTAIN]Where’s the esthetics?“Box office,” which refers to ticket offices at movie theaters, also refers to revenue from ticket sales. It is a global custom that the box office ranking is announced for performances over the weekend, when the number of moviegoers peaks. It is an official report card for a movie, so the film industry pays the foremost attention to the box office ranking. Especially for a widely released film, which opens around a nation at the same time, the first week’s box office ranking is considered an excellent standard for future success.
The box office is computed differently in each country. In Korea, it’s not revenue but viewers that are counted. For example, “Tazza,” the box office winner in the Chuseok holiday season, attracted 4 million viewers in 13 days. In the United States, Europe and Japan, money from ticket sales, not the numbers of the audiences, is counted. The ticket price depends on the show time, age of the viewer and theater.
The practice of calculating and announcing box office rankings is, naturally, a Hollywood invention. Since the early days of the film industry, studios in the United States have made the box office numbers public. The first box office hit in the history of film was “The Birth of a Nation,” in 1915, which grossed about $50 million in 2006 dollars.
The box office in the publishing industry is the bestseller ranking. In 1895, the American monthly book review “The Bookman” created a section dedicated to book sales for the month. The New York Times Book Review was the first to announce the weekly bestseller list we see today when it created a section titled “The Best Selling Books, Here and Everywhere” in 1942. Other rankings such as TV ratings and music sales ranking are variations on the bestseller list.
Sometimes the numbers trick us. We are more familiar with “a movie that 10 million people watched” rather than “a good movie” or “a fun movie.” A commercial claims that a credit card which 10 million people are using is as good as a movie that 10 million people have seen. The eyes of the media and the public are focused on the box office hit. Although “Tazza” is a well-made film which deserves such popularity, people are interested in when the movie will attract 5 million viewers, and whether it will break the 10-million mark.
Of course, 10 million is a great number. In the last presidential election, 12,014,377 votes were cast for Roh Moo-hyun, so the number can determine the president of a country. But the number does not tell the whole story. Quantifying and ranking everything and giving all the glory to the top dog is uncivilized materialism.
by Yang Sung-hee
The writer is a culture and sports desk writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.