Well Go USA Picks Up Warner Bros. Korea's 'Champion' for North America

'Champion' still - H 2018
Courtesy of Warner Brothers Korea

The arm-wrestling comedy starring Don Lee sold to multiple territories ahead of its market debut in the Cannes market.

Champion, the latest Korean-language film from Warner Bros., inked a slew of deals ahead of its market debut in Cannes.

Well Go USA will handle distribution for North America, Seoul-based sales banner Finecut said on Thursday.

Finecut said that deals now confirmed include Hong Kong and Macau (Edko Films), Malaysia and Brunei (Clover Films), Philippines (Rafaella Films International), Taiwan (Sky Films Entertainment) and Vietnam (Mint C&M). Warner Bros. Singapore will be handling the film's distribution in Singapore.

Produced by Corecorner and presented by Warner Bros. Pictures, the movie debuted at No. 2 in South Korean theaters in its wide release on Tuesday. It raked in just $1.1 million on its opening day, or 14.8 percent of the market share dominated by Avengers: Infinity War (80.7 percent), but a rep from Finecut expects the film to perform well in other territories.

The first feature from director Kim Yong-wan, Champion stars Don Lee (a.k.a. Ma Dong-seok), a popular supporting actor from 2016's international box-office smash Train to Busan. Champion follows a Korean adoptee working as a bouncer at a Los Angeles nightclub. His knack for arm-wrestling attracts the attention of a sports agent in Korea, where he embarks on a search for his birth family.

Finecut says the film was a dream project for Ma, who had wished to shoot an arm-wrestler film "like his hero Sylvester Stallone," the 1987 film Over the Top. Ma himself grew up in the U.S. and also worked as a professional bodybuilder and as a personal trainer for the likes of UFC champions Mark Coleman and Kevin Randleman. Ma also drew inspiration from his experience living in the States to help with the script.

In addition to Champion, Finecut's Cannes slate includes Lee Chang-dong's Burning, which is vying for the Palme d'Or in the main competition, and is set to get its world premiere on May 16 at the French film festival. The banner's upcoming animation, family feature Red Shoes and the Seven Dwarfs, (working title) and creature blockbuster movie Monstrum will receive market screenings at Cannes.