It’s been happening with teen idols for years: a pop artist/group hits it big with the kids, and Hollywood puts them in the movies. It happened with Elvis, the Beatles, the Jonas Brothers and Hannah Montana. Now the K-pop sensations BTS are readying their new concert film: Bring the Soul: The Movie.
Sometimes these acts turn out to be a flash in the pan, as they get consigned to one-hit wonder status. BTS has a distinct advantage. With show business corporations increasingly focusing on the international market, Korean pop groups stand a fighting chance of being it in for the long haul.
BTS finds success in the United States
BTS, also known as the Bangtan Boys, are a seven-member South Korean boy band formed in 2013. They found crossover success in America, becoming the first Korean group to land an RIAA certification with their single “Mic Drop.’ It peaked at No. 28 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was certified Gold, which means sales of 500,000 units. A download counts as one unit, and 150 audio/video streams count as one unit.
The DNA managed the same feat; it and “Mic Drop” would go on to receive a platinum certification, making BTS the first Korean act to achieve this feat. The group found success on the albums side, becoming the first group since the Beatles to have three number one albums in one year.
Indeed, the group has been so successful, they’re credited with turning around sales of the ailing music industry. They helped global music sales reach $19 billion in 2018, a figure not seen since 2006 after digital purchases became predominant.
Musician and producer Steve Aoki talked about BTS to Rolling Stone, saying “With streaming, fans now have such a large voice, and that’s how BTS really became a phenomenon — because the fans made it a phenomenon, like with the underground culture of punk and hardcore.”
‘Bring the Soul’ is BTS’ third movie
With musical success often comes movie success, and BTS crossed over from the stereo to the big screen in 2018 with Burn the Stage: The Movie, which made $4 million here and $16 million worldwide, according to Box Office Mojo.
The second film, BTS World Tour: Love Yourself in Seoul made $3.5 million stateside.
The trailer for the film features performances, behind-the-scenes footage, dance rehearsals, and a great many ecstatic fans Bring the Soul: The Movie will also cover European leg of their Love Yourself world tour.
“Listening to their music has helped me move on and I realized that I deserved better,” one fan says in the trailer, while another confesses, “You guys taught me how to love myself.”
Concert films are big business
Hollywood has been putting rock stars in movies since the genre first exploded in the 1950s. Originally, the emphasis was on narrative films, such as the dozens of movies made by Elvis Presley or Beatles movies such as A Hard Day’s Night and Help!
Sometimes rock acts made guest appearances in movies like the 1956 film The Girl Can’t Help It, which featured Little Richard, Fats Domino, Eddie Cochran, and others.
Over the years, the narrative feature with a pop star became less common in favor of the concert film. The most successful of these are Justin Bieber: Never Say Never with $73 million Michael Jackson: This is It with $72 million and Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus: The Best of Both Worlds with $65 million.
BTS’ two movies rank as the 13th and 14th highest-grossing concert films of all time, just behind Stop Making Sense, featuring the Talking Heads, and just ahead of Sign O’ the Times with Prince.
Bring the Soul comes out August 7.