Parasite is now the UK’s highest-grossing foreign-language film ever

After sweeping the Oscars, Bong Joon-ho now has the honour of knocking Mel Gibson off his perch.


Charles Bramesco


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

Tags: Bong Joon-ho Parasite

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