South Korea Box Office: 'Now You See Me 2' Breaks Opening Records

Courtesy of Summit Entertaiment
'Now You See Me 2'

Lionsgate's sequel broke the studio's local record for largest opening weekend while previews for the local zombie flick drew unprecedented attendance rates.

Now You See Me 2 debuted at No. 1 at the South Korean box office from July 15-17, breaking Lionsgate's record for largest opening weekend with $12.5 million. Limited previews for Train to Busan, the local zombie action movie that debuted at Cannes in May, however, trailed behind the Hollywood film ahead of its official theatrical release this coming Wednesday.

Now You See Me 2 accounted for 36.1 percent of the market share during this time frame as it debuted across 1,200 screens. The sequel to the 2013 heist thriller ranked not only on top for the weekend, but also enjoyed the second best opening weekend for a Hollywood title in 2016 behind Captain America: Civil War ($28.9 million from April 29-May 1).

Next, in second place, was Train to Busan, a zombie actioner handled by Next Entertainment World (NEW) that recorded unprecedented success for paid preview screenings with a total $4.3 million, according to Korean Film Council's KOBIS database.

The Yeon Sang-ho film brought in 19.3 percent of the share even though it was shown on 431 screens, which is about a third of that for Now You See Me 2. Given local regulations that limit the number of paid previews, the film was shown just 2,663 times, or one-fifth the number of screenings, for the Lionsgate thriller (13,670). Its box-office success can be attributed to the unusually high seat-occupancy rate of an average of 90.9 percent during the weekend, which peaked on Sunday up to 95.3 percent. The sell-out rate for Now You See Me 2, for example, was 42.3 percent over the weekend.

"Paid previews are limited to two-to-three screenings per day per theater, and almost all of the screenings were sold out. This reflects the high anticipation for Train to Busan, and we expect it to perform well after its official release," said a spokesperson for NEW.

Meanwhile, the big debuts of the two films pushed Finding Dory down to third place from last week's No. 1. The sequel to Finding Nemo took home 16.9 percent of the revenue as it was offered on 969 screens nationwide. With its cume gross coming down to $12.7, the animated film is already the second highest grossing Pixar release of all-time behind Inside Out.

In fourth place was the local period film Seondal: The Man Who Sells the River. The CJ Entertainment title also stepped down two spots from the previous week and accounted for 13.6 percent of the box-office share as it played across 811 screens.

The gross cume for the crime comedy based on a Korean folktale about a con man who tries to sell river water is now about $12.6 million since its release on July 6.

The Shallows came in at No. 5. The maritime survival thriller brought in 5.3 percent of weekend sales after debuting on 518 screens. The Universal Pictures title has so far earned $1.6 million in Korean theaters.

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