South Korea Hypes Up for 'Avengers: Age of Ultron'

Avengers: Age of Ultron Marvel Still - H 2014

Advanced ticket sales have already grossed $2.77 million, while exhibitions and licensed merchandisers are also lineup up to capitalize.

With less than a week before Avengers: Age of Ultron hits South Korean theaters — eight days earlier than the U.S. — local cinemas, department stores and even museums are catering to fans.

The second Avengers film bow in Korean theaters on April 23, and major multiplex chains CGV, Lotte Cinema and Megabox have already begun receiving scores of reservations. According to the Korean Film Council's KOBIS database, advanced ticket sales for the film amount to an estimated $2.77 million — 72 percent of tickets reserved for all forthcoming films as of Friday afternoon.

The film has drawn much attention in Korea as parts of the film were shot in Seoul and its satellite cities last year. Korean actress Soo Hyun also made headlines for snubbing a supporting role. Other Marvel films including the Iron Man series have been hugely successful in country and some industry insiders anticipate that Age of Ultron may perform better than Avatar, which remains the most successful imported title in Korean box office history.

Marvel's Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N. The Exhibition, an interactive exhibition allowing visitors inside a full-size replica of a S.H.I.E.L.D. base that opened in New York last year, will kick off its global tour, opening May 1 at Seoul's Yongsan War Memorial of Korea.

The local consumer industry is also scurrying to cash in on the hype. In collaboration with Walt Disney Company Korea, Lotte Department Store will open figurine pop-up stores across the country on April 24, the day after the film opens. Major retailer E-mart and Shinsegae Department Store have announced plans to set up special corners for Marvel merchandise, while Homeplus already began selling licensed stationary and toys several months ago.

Such collective enthusiasm for a foreign franchise is rather unprecedented, industry insiders have observed. Children's Day, which falls on May 5 here, has helped add to the interest in the comic book franchise. And for adults, Samsung also announced a special series of Avengers-themed Galaxy S6 smartphones.

Meanwhile, director Joss Whedon and actors Robert Downey Jr., Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans and Soo Hyun kicked off the promotional tour for the film in Seoul on Friday, and will continue onto Beijing.