Yee-haw bow for 'Weird' Korean Western

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Korea's biggest film distributor, CJ Entertainment, could have the territory's biggest hit of the year as Kim Jee-woon's "The Good, the Bad, the Weird" jumped out to a huge opening Thursday with more than 400,000 admissions.

CJ on Friday expected the film — a Korean spin on the spaghetti Westerns of Sergio Leone — to top 2 million admissions by Sunday night, making it the strongest opening for any film this year.

With a budget of about $17 million, "Weird" is one of the most expensive Korean films ever made. Given a prolonged industry slump, much is riding on its success.

"We hope that the film will jump-start the Korean film industry and herald an exciting latter half of the year," said Mike Suh, CJ's head of international film financing and distribution.

So far this year, Korean movies have accounted for 37% of the boxoffice, their smallest share since 2002.

Admissions in the first half amounted to 70.5 million, the third-strongest on record, but are down 2% from 2007 and sharply below the 80 million admissions registered in first-half 2006.

Last week, CJ closed North American distribution rights to IFC, which plans to open "Weird" in first-half 2009.

After its world premiere at May's Festival de Cannes, "Weird" will make its North American debut Sept. 12 at the Toronto International Film Festival.

"Weird" has been presold in 11 territories.(partialdiff)
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