South Korean satire Parasite posted the most successful opening weekend for a foreign film at Newcastle’s Tyneside Cinema, selling over 20,000 tickets.
Director Bong Joon-Ho’s tale of class warfare also became one of the cinema’s top five openers ever, selling more than 2,000 tickets and selling out almost every screening.
Delighted to say that Parasite has had the biggest opening weekend of any film in my time programming @TynesideCinema. It’s also one of our top five openers ever, and our biggest ever opening for a foreign language film, on what might be our busiest ever weekend. CINEMA LIVES. pic.twitter.com/ADywUFsYHq
— Andrew Simpson (@Andrew_Simpson_) February 10, 2020
Parasite made history on Sunday night, becoming the first foreign-language film to win the best picture award at the Oscars. It was one of the biggest surprises of the year, taking another three awards on the night. As well as best picture, it won best international feature, best director, and best international feature.
These follow on from BAFTA and Golden Globe wins this year and 2019’s Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival.
Andrew Simpson, director of programming at the Tyneside Cinema said that even though it was one of the biggest art-house releases of the year, “the level of its popularity has taken a lot of people by surprise”.
“Subtitles needn’t necessarily be an impediment to audiences, and Parasite’s success could be a springboard for other foreign language films”, he said.
And on why Parasite has been so successful outside of its native South Korea, Mr Simpson said, “In terms of the North East, and lots of other parts of the UK, it really feels of the moment, with the debate around government, cuts to public services, and around poverty. The links to poverty and what people consider criminality, these issues feel very real and very alive and the gap between rich and poor is in the public consciousness”.
Steve Cannon, a senior lecturer in film studies at Sunderland University, thinks its success is down to the director too. “It is a drama built on ideas of class and social inequality which deals with those ideas carefully. It could be big in any city in any country but not any filmmaker would have handled it so well”
The Tyneside Cinema is the leading specialised independent cinema and digital arts venue in the North East and is the only news theatre in the UK still operating as a cinema.
Parasite will be shown at the Tyneside Cinema until February 20. For more information, visit their website here.