The South Korean drama Parasite – directed by Bong Joon-ho – made Oscar history on Sunday night when it became the first foreign language film ever to take home the trophy for Best Picture. But, even though it’s loved by critics and is now the highest-grossing South Korean movie of all-time, American audiences are still discovering this gem.
After its debut at the Cannes Film Festival in May, Parasite has earned $163.5 million at the box office worldwide, but only $35.4 million has come from the United States. The film hit American theaters on October 11th via a limited release, and in its first weekend on three screens it earned an incredible $392,216, with a per-screen average of $131,072. That’s the highest ever for a non-English film.
Last night, Parasite made history as the first non-English film to win an Oscar for best picture.
— Kamala Harris (@SenKamalaHarris) February 10, 2020
Over the next few weeks, the film expanded to 1,000 theaters, but it didn’t get anywhere near the screen average from its opening weekend. For many casual moviegoers, having to read subtitles is a dealbreaker when it comes to picking a movie. But now that Parasite has received unprecedented accolades from Hollywood, American audiences are wondering what all the fuss is about.
Parasite tells the story of two families – the wealthy Park family and the poor Kim family – whose lives intersect when the Kim family infiltrates the Park family’s world. It all begins when the Kim children start tutoring the Park children, and then the Kim parents start working in the Park household after a bit of scheming lands them jobs.
Throughout the story, each family becomes “parasites” in different ways, as the Kims take advantage of the Parks’ money, and the Parks exploit the Kims’ cheap labor.
“Because the story is about the poor family infiltrating and creeping into the rich house, it seems very obvious that Parasite refers to the poor family, and I think that’s why the marketing team was a little hesitant,” Bong explained to Yahoo Movies. “But if you look at it the other way, you can say that rich family, they’re also parasites in terms of labor. They can’t even wash dishes, they can’t drive themselves, so they leech off the poor family’s labor. So both are parasites.”
— Opposable Thumbs (@OThumbs) February 10, 2020
Parasite is the seventh film that Bong Joon-ho has directed, with his previous works including Netflix’s Okja (2017), the independent thriller Snowpiercer (2014), and the monster flick The Host (2006).
In addition to its Best Picture win at the Oscars, Parasite won the prestigious Palme d’Or at Cannes, the Best Foreign Language Film award at the Golden Globes, and Best Film not in the English language at the BAFTAs.
Parasite and Bong Joon-ho won a total of four Oscars – Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, Best Director, and Best International Feature Film.
For fans who are interested in seeing Parasite, it’s available to rent or buy on both Amazon Prime Video and YouTube.