South Korea Box Office: Local Drama 'A Taxi Driver' Becomes Top Film of 2017

Courtesy of Well Go USA
'A Taxi Driver'

The closer for the 21st Fantasia Film Festival has earned $54.8 million in two weeks, crossing 8 million admissions to become the year's biggest draw in the Asian country.

South Korean film A Taxi Driver again sped through the local box office over the weekend, crossing 8 million admissions Monday to become 2017's top release in the country.

South Korean industry observers measure box-office performance by admissions, and so far just 16 titles have managed to garner over 10 million in a country with a population of 50 million. Many onlookers expect the film to cross the 10 million mark in the coming days.

The historical drama, handled by Showbox, topped the country's box-office charts for the second consecutive week, taking in 40.3 percent of the market share as it screened on 1,410 screens nationwide, according to the Korean Film Council's KOBIS database. This is a slight decrease from last week's debut across 1,906 screens that hauled in 63.6 percent of the box-office revenue in the country.

In monetary terms, the film has reached a gross total of $54.8 million, slightly behind the $55.7 million cume drawn in by local spy actioner Confidential Assignment (CJ Entertainment) earlier this year. Industry observers, however, expect A Taxi Drive to speed past that shortly.

Starring Thomas Kretschmann (Stalingrad, Avengers: Age of Ultron) opposite Song Kang-ho (Snowpiercer), the film closed the 21st Fantasia International Film Festival in Montreal. Directed by Jang Hoon (The Front Line), the film is inspired by the true story of a German reporter who receives the help of a local cab driver to cover a massive, military regime-sanctioned massacre against civilians during Korea's 1980 democratization movement.

The incident, known today as the Gwangju Uprising, remains a sensitive issue in modern Korean history, but film critics say A Taxi Driver was able to resonate widely with viewers as it refrains from making any direct political commentary.

"The film focuses instead on the friendship that forms between a local driver and foreign journalist, and it is this mainstream appeal that attracted a diverse demographic," said film critic Yoon Sung-eun.

Coming in second place this weekend was Midnight Runners. The local police actioner from Lotte Entertainment debuted across 1,058 screens to bring in 29.8 percent of the share for a total $13.5 million.

Ranking third was Annabelle: Creation, which accounted for about 17 percent of the share. According to Warner Bros., the fourth installment in The Conjuring franchise opened to $6.6 million on 947 screens. The results surpassed all films in the series in South Korea, including the lifetime cume of Annabelle.

Coming in fourth was Despicable Me 3, which was one spot down from that of the previous week. The animated feature from Universal Pictures took 3.6 percent of the share for a cume of $19.3 million.

Local period film The Battleship Island finished at No. 5 with 2.6 percent of the revenue. The CJ Entertainment title by Ryoo Seung-wan has so far earned $43.3 million, or 6.5 million admissions.

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