Perhaps you assumed that with the passing of Oscar night and the official conclusion of awards season, the steady stream of news items about the world-spanning cultural domination of Bong Joon-ho’s crowd-pleasing Parasite would ebb. Think again!
Over this past weekend, the awards-lavished Korean thriller added yet another feather to its cap by claiming the distinction of the UK’s highest-grossing film of all time not in the English language. According to Deadline, its grosses now total £11,458,707, edging out the former title-holder Passion of the Christ and its £11,080,000 take. (Mel Gibson, global filmmaker!)
The response of the public to this news has provided a hint as to how a Cannes victor could so prolong its phenomenon; the celebratory tweet from Curzon Artificial Eye speaks to the subtle way in which the critical and financial success of this film became a collective project for its far-reaching fandom. Attaining blockbuster status was a team effort for the many viewers who purchased return tickets for a second, third, or fourth viewing as well as the theaters that continue to run it.
If nothing else, it’s heartening to see such a handsome monetary return to a film that truly deserves its every coin, a rare occurrence for non-franchise releases informed by an auteur’s vision. I’m reminded of the roaring rollout for Mad Max: Fury Road and the feeling that anything is possible – that highly individualistic films can be financed and made at a tremendous profit for a public prepared to appreciate all they have to offer.
We most likely haven’t seen the last of Parasite as a box-office force to be reckoned with. if distributors have any sense, they’ll make this one a staple of repertory screenings for years to come, where it could continue to play to sold-out houses aware that it has a special wow factor when experienced in a proper theatrical setting. The collective rumblings of “Jessica, only child, Illinois, Chicago” will sound throughout the halls of history.
Published 9 Mar 2020
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The South Korean master dissects his deliciously dark capitalist satire, Parasite.
The “local” awards ceremony reflects an industry inching towards globalization.