Korea Box Office: 'Roaring Currents' Surpasses 'Frozen,' Becomes Top 2014 Film

Courtesy of CJ Entertainment

The maritime action film crossed 10 million admissions at record speed

SEOUL — South Korean maritime epic Roaring Currents crossed 10.77 million admissions on Monday, overtaking Frozen (10.29 million admissions) to become the most watched film of 2014 in the country.

Korean industry observers use admissions as their primary measure. In financial terms, the maritime epic has brought in $80.26 million as of Monday.

Only a dozen films — all Korean titles except for Avatar and Frozen — have managed to draw over 10 million admissions, or roughly a fifth of the South Korean population of 50 million. The film took only 12 days to reach the milestone on Sunday, overtaking The Host's previous record of 21 days.

Avatar, the top film of all time in Korea with 13.3 million ticket sales, took 38 days to break 10 million admissions. Many observers are expecting Roaring Currents to end up topping Avatar, as no film has performed so strongly early in its run in Korean box-office history. Breaking one local box-office record after another, the film continues to enjoy a high theater occupancy rate of 87.6 percent, according to CJ.

Roaring Currents was developed as a three-part franchise, and script-writing is said to be underway on the next two films. Meanwhile, tourism in Haenam, in the country's South Jeolla province, the historic site featured in the film, has increased since the film's release, according to local government officials.

Having opened in U.S. theaters on Aug. 8, the film also is set to be released in Asian territories including Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam. Choi Min-sik (Oldboy, Lucy) plays one of Korea's most respected historical figures, the 16th century admiral Yi Sun-shin as he defeats Japan's league of 330 ships with only 12 vessels.

The success marks the second time that the Korean film industry has had more than one film in one year break the 10 million admissions milestone. In 2012, two local films, Masquerade and The Thieves, crossed the benchmark.