South Korean Box Office: Local Epic 'Roaring Currents' in Record-Breaking Debut

Courtesy of CJ Entertainment
"Roaring Currents" debuted in first place at the South Korean box office.

The historical actioner starring "Lucy" star Choi Min-sik cashed in $37.5 million, setting several box-office records as a string of Korean blockbusters dominate.

SEOUL — South Korean epic Roaring Currents rewrote one local box-office opening record after another over its opening weekend, raking in $37.5 million and more than 5 million admissions in just six days as of Monday.

The historical film actioner starring Choi Min-sik (who made his international breakthrough in Oldboy and most recently in the U.S. box-office smash Lucy) had the biggest opening in Korean box-office history with 680,000 admissions ($2.7 million) last Wednesday, July 30. South Korea uses admissions as their primary measure for movie performance.

Roaring Currents went on to sell the most number of tickets during a weekday ($6.7 million or 860,000 admissions) as well as during any single day ($9.5 million or 1.25 million admissions) during its first weekend in theaters. It accounted for as much as 87.6 percent of total tickets sold across the country on Saturday.

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The maritime actioner recorded 5 million admissions at the fastest rate in Korean box-office history, reaching the milestone four days earlier than Iron Man 3 as well as a handful of the most watched local pictures that each recorded around 10 million admissions, including Snowpiercer, The Thieves, The Host and The Face Reader. Avatar, which remains the highest grossing film in Korea, took 16 days to sell 5 million tickets.

How to Train Your Dragon 2 took second place; the DreamWorks animation accounted for 11.5 percent of the market share and has so far drawn 2.11 admissions. Kundo: Age of the Rampant, which recorded the biggest box-office weekend debut last week, stepped down to third place. It has so far brought in close to 4.5 million admissions (total $33.7 million).

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The latest Marvel film, Guardians of the Galaxy came in fourth ($4.78 million) followed by the Hollywood animation Turkey. Meanwhile, smaller imported flicks including Attila Marcel, Tokyo Family and Frances Ha were also successful by ranking among the top 10 films.

Choi plays one of Korea's most respected historical figures, the 16th-century admiral Yi Sun-shin in Roaring Currents. The CJ Entertainment film chronicles an epic battle during the 1597 Japanese invasion in which the admiral defeats 330 enemy Japanese ships with just 12 battleships.