'Sunny' Brightens Up South Korean Box Office in First Half of 2011

The retro drama has so far attracted more than 7 million viewers.

SEOUL – Sunny, which recently became the 12th highest grossing South Korean movie in local box office history, will be opening across more U.S. theaters this week.

The retro drama debuted in theaters in Los Angeles and Torrance, Calif. on July 22 and is slated to open Friday in New York, New Jersey, Chicago, Virginia, Washington D.C., Seattle, Texas and Hawaii.

The film attracted more than 7 million moviegoers in the Asian country as of July 19 according to its distributor CJ E&M Pictures, making it the most watched film overall during the first half of 2011.

Sunny brought in 1.8 million viewers during its 11th weekend in theaters alone. Since opening on May 4 it has been steadily selling in spite of competition with Hollywood blockbusters such as Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Kung Fu Panda 2, X-Men: First Class and Transformers: Dark of the Moon,” said CJ E&M Pictures.

Sunny overtook some of the most popular Korean movies of all time including The Good, the Bad, the Weird (2009), which saw 6.68 million admissions, and Tazza: The High Rollers (2006), which attracted 6.85 million.

The movie is directed by Kang Hyoung-chul, who made his debut with the 2008 sleeper hit The Scandal Makers. Kang has yet to see if Sunny will beat his previous film’s score, which brought in 8.3 million viewers and remains the eighth highest grossing domestic film in Korean box office history. Only a handful of local films have clocked up 10 million admissions in the country, which has a population of about 49 million.

A director’s cut version of the movie is also opening in theaters on Thursday, in a rare instance of such a case of several variations of the same work playing simultaneously in theaters. In the past, the Cannes Festival version of The Good, The Bad, The Weird was offered.

Sunny, not to be confused with Lee Jun-ik’s 2008 Vietnam War film of the same name, is about seven girlfriends reuniting 25 years after attending junior high school together. It has been noted for its fine attention to the 1980s period detail, witty dialogue and solid script.