The year that just ended was all about finally seeing a number of movies that began production prior to the pandemic. Despite better-than-expected ticket sales, having so many options to watch comfortably at home led many film buffs and moviegoers to stay inside.
How will upcoming movies this year impact ticket sales at the cinema? From Hollywood’s megasized projects to a variety of local films finally meeting audiences after enduring setbacks and delays due to the pandemic, following are some of the movies to look for in 2023.
Pre-pandemic productions to finally hit theaters
Director Kang Je-gyu, behind various hit films “Shiri” (1999), “Brotherhood” (2004) and “Take Off” (2009), is unveiling “Road to Boston” this year. Based on Sohn Kee-jung’s life and the story of his preparation for the first international marathon held after World War II, the film featuring actors Ha Jung-woo and Yim Si-wan had already wrapped up in January 2020, and will finally meet with audiences.
The third and final film of a trilogy spanning major events in the life of Admiral Yi Sun-sin, “Noryang: Sea of Death” also hits local theaters this year. Directed by Kim Han-min, who released second film “Hansan: Rising Dragon” in July last year, it had completed filming in 2021. Kim Yoon-seok and Baek Yoon-sik star.
Director Yim Sang-soo’s “Heaven: To the Land of Happiness,” which was invited to the Cannes Film Festival in 2020, will be released this year as well, four years after the movie wrapped. The star-studded cast that includes Park Hae-il, Youn Yuh-jung and Choi Min-sik had caught people’s attention.
Director Kwon Hyuk-jae’s “Count” is also set to be unveiled three years after completing shooting. The movie featuring Jin Sun-kyu and Oh Na-ra tells the story of a former gold medalist and physical education teacher teaming up with a rebellious student against an unfair society.
Hollywood blockbusters to land in Korea
The return of a Tom Cruise film is undoubtedly among the most exciting news for avid action movie fans here. The seventh installment in the “Mission: Impossible” franchise “Mission: Impossible -- Dead Reckoning Part One” will finally open after four previous delays. Director Christopher McQuarrie returns as writer, director and producer.
The movie is set to premiere in July in the US, and will open here at a similar time frame.
Indiana Jones also returns to the big screen after a 15-year hiatus with a brand-new protege in “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny.” In the fifth installment of the Indiana Jones film series, Harrison Ford reprises his role as the titular archaeologist, with his face digitally deaged using the latest technology. The movie comes from James Mangold, director of Marvel film “Logan.”
Best known for his cerebral storytelling, writer-director Christopher Nolan presents his historical war drama “Oppenheimer,” centering on physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer working on the Manhattan Project, which led to the development of the atomic bomb.
Return of top-grossing directors
Some of South Korea’s most famous directors are also returning with new projects.
Director Ryoo Seung-wan, behind “The Berlin File” (2013) and “Veteran” (2015), is coming back with a star-studded cast for “Smuggle.” Kim Hye-soo, Zo In-sung, Yeom Jung-ah and Park Jung-min appear in the film.
Director Park Hoon-jung, known for 2013’s “New World,” will present his signature action noir in “The Child,” featuring Kim Sun-ho portraying a professional boxer.
Director Kwak Kyung-taek of “Friend” (2001) will newly release the drama film “Firefighter,” based on a 2001 accident that took place in Hongje-dong, Seoul, claiming six lives.
“Extreme Job” (2019) director Lee Byeong-heon returns with comedy-drama “Dream,” featuring Park Seo-joon and Lee Ji-eun, telling the story of a former soccer coach training a national team of unhoused people for the Homeless World Cup.
Director Kang Hyeong-cheol, know for 2011 comedy “Sunny,” will release crime action film “Hi.5,” featuring actors Yoo Ah-in, Ra Mi-ran and Ahn Jae-hong. The film is set in the 1970s, telling a story of women divers living in a peaceful seaside village who gain superpowers over a night.
Prolific actors continue on big screen
Moviegoers can expect to see prolific actors like Hwang Jung-min, Lee Byung-hun and Ha Jung-woo on the big screen again this year.
Hwang will appear in action-comedy “Cross,” alongside actors Yeom Jung-ah and Jeon Hye-jin, which centers on the story of a former intelligence agent. Hwang plays the ex-agent who now lives as a devoted husband by hiding his past, while his wife, played by Yum, is an ace member of the crime investigation unit.
Lee returns with thriller “Concrete Utopia,” starring Park Seo-joon and Park Bo-young. The movie will be the first film of the series in a cinematic universe concept revolving around the "concrete universe," where survivors from a devastating earthquake gather at an isolated apartment building.
Meanwhile, “Reborn Rich” star Song Jung-ki will make an appearance on the silver screen with two new projects, crime drama “Bogota: City of the Lost” and noir drama “Hwaran,” which just wrapped up a few weeks ago.
Park Shin-yang also is set to return to the big screen after a decade with “Devil Stay,” an occult drama that revolves the awakening of the devil inside a dead daughter.