South Korea Box Office: Oscar Entry 'The Throne' on Top, 'Maze Runner: Scorch Trials' Debuts Second

The Throne Still - H 2015
Courtesy of Showbox Mediaplex

The local period drama that will vie for a 2016 best foreign-language Oscar nomination earned over $9.1M, while 'Maze Runner: Scorch Trials' garnered $5.72M during their debut weekend.

Two new films dominated the South Korean box office from Sept. 19-20, with The Throne, the Asian country's entry for the foreign-language Oscar, and Maze Runner: Scorch Trials taking first and second, respectively.

The Throne, handled by Showbox/Mediaplex, swept the charts as it took 50.6 percent of the market share during this time frame according to the Korean Film Council's KOBIS database. It earned over a cumulative $9.1 million during its debut weekend. In terms of admissions, by which local industry observers rank films, the period drama garnered over 1.81 million, which beat the debut scores of all-time Korean blockbusters including Ode to My Father (1.52 million admissions in 2014) and Masquerade (1.27 million admissions in 2012).

The film stars Song Kang-ho (Snowpiercer) as the infamous 18th-century King Yeongjo, who had his own son put to death. Popular actor Yoo Ah-in, star of recent box-office smash Veteran, plays the role of the tragic Crown Prince Sado, who perishes after being locked in a wooden rice chest for eight days at the height of a hot summer. It is the second film by Lee Joon-ik to be chosen as Korea's Oscar nod contender.

In second was Maze Runner: Scorch Trials, which blazed up the charts by taking 31.8 percent of the total revenue earned during the past weekend. The 20th Century Fox Korea title grossed a total $7.29 million, or over 1 million admissions. Observers predict that the film may overtake the box-office score of the first Maze Runner, which recorded 2.81 million admissions here last year. The sequel has made headlines here for starring Korean-American actor Ki Hong Lee.

Global Grosses 9/20/15

Rentrak Actuals for Weekend of 9/20/15
Weekend Cume
1. Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials $73.6M $108.3M
2. Everest $35.8M $35.8M
3. Black Mass $24.0M $24.0M
4. Minions $23.7M $1.1B
5. Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation $23.5M $656.4M
6. Fack ju Gohte 2 $16.0M $43.0M
7. Pixels $15.6M $221.4M
8. The Visit $13.7M $50.5M
9. Inside Out $10.8M $761.7M
10. The Throne $10.6M $10.7M

The strong debuts of The Throne and the second Maze Runner film has pushed down Ant-Man to third. The Marvel actioner topped the local box office for the two previous weeks. The Walt Disney Company Korea film accounted for 6.5 percent of the share for a total gross of $19.08 million and nearly 2.7 million admissions.

Homespun blockbuster Veteran also stepped down two spots to fourth place, but it ascended the ranks in terms of best Korean films of all time. The crime actioner accounted for 5.9 percent of the market share with total earnings coming down to $85.3 million. The film's release across North American theaters over the weekend is also expected to earn extra revenue.

In terms of admissions, the CJ Entertainment title garnered a total 1.27 million to surpass the attendance record of recent homegrown blockbuster The Assassination to become the sixth most-watched Korean film of all time. It ranks seventh overall, including foreign imports.

In fifth place was another new film, the Japanese animation Doraemon the Movie: Nobita and the Space. The Daewon Media title took 1.6 percent of ticket sales to earn a total of about $305,605.