“Parasite,” a twisty look at the efforts of a poor family to insinuate themselves into the lives of their affluent bosses, is a worldwide phenomenon at the box office, a critical smash, and a nominee for bona fide prizes. It’s also the first Korean film to be welcomed in the U.S., where it racked up $12.5 million to become the year’s highest-grossing foreign-language film. Globally, it has sold tickets over $109 million. Something extraordinary is happening here, partly due to the way the satirical depiction of socioeconomic inequalities of the movie resonates at a period when economic inequality has become a dominant political issue.
It’s not just Bernie Sanders backers ‘ political-driven fall movie of choice. “Parasite” has dramatically increased the popularity of writer-director Bong Joon Ho, who has gained a devoted following over the past two decades with the likes of “Mom,” “The Host” and “Snowpiercer.” “Parasite” has succeeded in bringing Bong to a new breed of audiences, many of whom are unfamiliar with his earlier work, enabling them to explore a director who is a master of the switch. “Parasite” is both a dark comedy, a searing social drama, and a whirring thriller — often gliding in almost the same scene from laughing to startling brutality.
The film brings Bong together with Tom Quinn, Indie Studio Neon’s founder and CEO, who has been the long-standing distributor of the director. While Quinn was a top executive at Magnolia, the two worked together on five of Bong’s seven films, forming a bond with the release of the monster movie “The Host.” Over the years, their careers have often crossed with “Snowpiercer,” an adventure story set in a dystopic world in which mankind is made to live on a huge ship. The release of the film was delayed after Chief Harvey Weinstein of Weinstein Co. ordered 20 minutes of cuts. Weinstein discarded the movie to Radius-TWC, the company’s premium brand, which was then managed by Quinn after Bong declined. Finally, the picture was published unchanged to glowing reviews.