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Train to Busan charged through the South Korean box office this weekend, setting several local records, including for the biggest opening weekend performance, and eclipsing big Hollywood summer titles.
The zombie thriller from Next Entertainment World dominated the July 22-24 box office, reaching more than 74.7 percent of the market share to earn more than $24 million during the three-day weekend. Its five-day gross of $38.8 million is a record for the country, as it now tops Roaring Currents, the 2014 period actioner from CJ Entertainment that garnered $35.4 million during the same time frame.
South Korea’s first zombie blockbuster broke a couple other box-office records. It garnered the biggest opening-day score of $5.8 million, as well as the highest single-day performance of $9.9 million on Saturday. It also became the fastest movie ever in the country to cross the 5 million admissions mark.
Currently showing on 1,785 screens—which account for about 70 percent of all screens across the Asian country—and having an average seat-occupancy rate of over 60 percent (according to the Korean Film Council’s KOBIS database), Train to Busan is expected to continue speeding through the box office.
In terms of admissions, by which local industry observers measure box-office performance, the Yeon Sang-ho film has already reached 5.3 million admissions and is expected to cross 10 million soon. Not even 20 films have reached the 10 million milestone, which accounts for a fifth of South Korea’s total population of 50 million. The live-action film debut by the animator had garnered much attention from fans near and far since it premiered at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year and is expected to earn more from foreign territories, including the U.S.
Adding to the speedy performance was the unprecedented success of the film’s paid preview screenings, which alone allowed Train to Busan to rank No. 2 last week ($4.3 million), even though the number of screenings was limited.
The incredible debut pushed Now You See Me 2 down to the No. 2 spot after it last week ranked on top. The sequel to the 2013 heist thriller took 10.5 percent of the country’s box-office revenue, which is less than a third of the previous week’s 36.1 percent. It is currently offered on 648 screens, about half of the 1,200 for the July 15-17 period. Its total revenue has reached $19.7 million, and the Lionsgate title has become the 13th-highest grossing film of 2016 in the territory.
Ranking next were a series of animated features in time for children’s summer break.
In third place was Ice Age: Collision Course. The Fox animated feature brought in $1.6 million as it debuted across 579 screens nationwide. In terms of market share, it accounted for about 4.4 percent.
In fourth was Finding Dory, which scooped 3.6 percent of the share for a weekend gross total of $14.3 million. This was just a fraction of last week’s share of 16.9 percent, but the film is already the second-highest-grossing Pixar release of all time in Korea, behind 2014’s Inside Out. The sequel to Finding Nemo is currently available on 458 screens across the Asian country.
Finishing at No. 5 was the Japanese animated film Yo-Kai Watch the Movie: King Enma and the Five Stories. Handled by CJ Entertainment, it debuted across 402 screens nationwide and accounted for 2.5 percent of the total market share for a gross of $936,879, according to KOBIS.
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