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‘Peninsula’ scores biggest opening of the year, shakes up COVID-19-hit film scene

The film marks best opening day sales for a Korean movie in Singapore, Taiwan

“Peninsula” poster for Taiwan (NEW)
“Peninsula” poster for Taiwan (NEW)

“Peninsula” on Wednesday opened the doors of the summer movie season with record-high ticket sales for this year’s box office.

The sequel of to smash-hit zombie thriller “Train to Busan” attracted over 350,000 moviegoers to theaters on its release day, the film’s distributor Next Entertainment World said through a statement on Thursday. The Korean Film Council’s tally stood at 277,964 due to a computational error, the state-run agency explained.

The figure is the highest opening-day ticket sales in almost 176 days, since the release of “The Man Standing Next,” which opened in January before the virus pandemic started to chase away theatergoers from indoor cinemas. The drama flick starring actors Lee Byung-hun and Kwak Do-won attracted around 252,000 viewers on Jan. 22, its first day in theaters. “#Alive,” which topped the box office chart for three weeks straight starting on June 24 garnered 204,071 moviegoers on its first day.

As of 3 p.m. Thursday, KOFIC data showed “Peninsula” made up 85.8 percent of all movie tickets reserved that day.

Coming from director Yeon Sang-ho, “Peninsula” is one of the most-anticipated Korean films this year. The film features headlining actors Gang Dong-won and Lee Jung-hyun in the lead roles, telling the story of survivors four years after the outbreak of a zombie apocalypse in Korea.

The overall number of theatergoers hit 296,781 on Wednesday, according to KOFIC, which is the highest daily figure so far this month.

The successful debut of “Peninsula” casts hope for the movie industry as local cinemas continue to struggle for normalization. Although the numbers have been inching up since early June, concerns of infection inside of closed spaces and a lack of new titles seem to be holding back a full recovery.

Meanwhile, the film -- which has been pre-sold to over 190 countries -- is enjoying huge success outside of Korea as well. The film opened in Singapore and Taiwan on the same day as it did in South Korea, and set a record for best opening day ticket sales for a Korean movie in both countries.

By Choi Ji-won(jwc@heraldcorp.com)
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