SEOUL — Bong Joon-ho‘s Snowpiercer has become the highest-grossing South Korean release in France by garnering close to 200,000 admissions during its opening weekend. This beats the previously held score by Kim Ki-duk‘s Spring, Sumer, Fall, Winter … and Spring (186,760 admissions in 2003) as well as Bong’s own record in the European country, where his monster film The Host sold over 159,000 tickets in 2006.
Snowpiercer ranked No. 5 over the Oct. 30-Nov. 3 weekend box office, trailing behind such Hollywood blockbusters as Thor: The Dark World, Gravity, and Turbo that respectively took the top three spots. It ranked second after Thor among new releases.
“Snowpiercer has a very high theater occupancy rate, especially in Paris, and has already surpassed the admissions figure for Bong Joon-ho’s The Host. With the look of things we expect profits to overturn the investment by French companies for the film,” said a representative for Le Pacte/Wild Side Films that is distributing the sci-fi film in French territories. Snowpiercer is based on the French graphic novel Le Transperceneige.
Snowpiercer is currently showing on some 300 screens, which marks the widest ever release for a Korean film — The Host was shown on 223 screens while two Cannes-winning films, Park Chan-wook‘s Thirst (2009) and Im Kwon-taek‘s Chihwaseon (2002) secured 78 and 60 screens each.
“Snowpiercer is a relatively small film but is enjoying both popular and critical success. This is particularly impressive considering that it is showing on less than half the number of screens as Turbo (834 screens), Thor (585), and Planes (632),” said a spokesperson for the film’s local producer/distributor CJ E&M.
Meanwhile, Korean president Park Geun-hye, currently making state visits across Europe, was in town during the film’s opening weekend.
“This film is based on an acclaimed French graphic novel. It is my hope that such similar collaborations can take place in terms of cultural content and technology, and furthermore, contribute to cooperative relations between Korea and France,” Park said during a press meeting Monday at the InterContinental Paris le Grand Hotel.
Snowpiercer is one of the year’s highest grossing films on home turf with 9.3 million admissions and made its French premiere as the closer for the Deauville American Film Festival in September. It is slated for release in Hong Kong later this month and in Japan in February 2014.