South Korea Box Office: Warner Bros. Local Production 'The Age of Shadows' Dominates

Courtesy of Warner Bros.
'The Age of Shadows'

Korea's Oscar entry for best foreign-language film monopolized over 69 percent of the market share to earn $16 million during its opening weekend.

The Age of Shadows, Warner Bros.' first local production in South Korea, eclipsed the local box office to earn a cume $16 million—or almost 70 percent of the market share—during its debut weekend from Sept. 9-11.

The period film, which is also widely known by its Korean title Mil Jeong, opened across 1,444 screens nationwide. It accounted for 69.1 percent of the total box-office revenue during this time frame, or over 80 percent of the share of the top 5 films. This marks the first time since summer blockbuster Train to Busan that a film has dominated the charts with such tour de force.

The Kim Jee-woon title features Train to Busan's lead actor Gong Yoo opposite A-lister Song Kang-ho, the Snowpiercer star who joined the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences last year. The Age of Shadows was recently chosen as South Korea's Oscar entry for the best foreign-language film category. Last year's Korean Oscar submission, The Throne, also starred Kang in the lead role.

The spy drama, which premiered at the Venice Film Festival, is about independence fighters who try to smuggle explosives from Shanghai into Japan-occupied Korea during the 1920s. The Warner Bros. title is a Grimm Pictures and Warner Bros. Korea production in association with Harbin Films, and is expected to draw scores of more viewers over the Korean Chuseok (Thanksgiving) holiday from Wednesday to Sunday.

The rest of the top five films were also new releases.

In second place was another Korean period epic, The Map Against the World. The CJ Entertainment title debuted on 756 screens (about half the amount of The Age of Shadows) to take home a total $2.2 million or 9.2 percent of the market share, according to the Korean Film Council's KOBIS database. Directed by star producer-filmmaker Kang Woo-suk, the historical epic is about 19th-century mountaineer/cartographer Kim Jeong-ho, who walked the entire breadth and length of the Korean Peninsula to create his legendary map of the Joseon Kingdom (1392-1910).

In third place was Alice Through the Looking Glass, which drew 6.6 percent of the revenue for a gross total of $1.4 million. The Disney sequel starring Johnny Depp was offered on 515 screens across the country.

Finishing at No. 4 was the local animated feature Lost in the Moonlight. Handled by Next Entertainment World, the film accounted for 2.2 percent of the market for total earnings of about $443,410. It was shown on 425 screens. The family animation follows the adventures of a 13-year-old girl in Korea's historic Changdeok Palace.

In fifth place was another animated feature, Foosball (a.k.a.Metegol). The 2013 Argentina-Spain title earned a total $414,133 during its belated theatrical debut in Korea. This comes down to 2 percent of the market share. Korea Screen Inc. distributed the adventure film about toys coming to life across 294 screens.