Battleship Island sets record in South Korea

Battleship Island opens in Singapore on Aug 17, starring Song Joong Ki (above).
Battleship Island opens in Singapore on Aug 17, starring Song Joong Ki (above). PHOTO: GOLDEN VILLAGE

SEOUL • Song Joong Ki's wartime movie Battleship Island has conquered the South Korean box office. It breached the four-million audience line on Sunday in becoming the fastest film to advance past that mark this year.

The movie, which also stars So Ji Sub and Hwang Jung Min, zooms in on the suffering of hundreds of Koreans forced to work in coal mines on Japan's Hashima Island during World War II.

The film had got off to a roaring start last Wednesday when 970,516 tickets were sold - a record for a movie on its first day in South Korean cinemas, according to the Korean Film Council.

The previous record-holder was The Mummy, starring Tom Cruise, which opened in June and sold 872,965 tickets on its opening day, The Korea Herald reported.

Among South Korean films, last year's Train To Busan held the previous record at 872,673 tickets sold.

But Battleship Island has also drawn flak from some naysayers, who attribute its winning ways to the fact that it was shown on 2,027 screens, or 87 per cent of the country's total, on the opening day.

It is distributed by CJ Entertainment, the movie arm of South Korea's largest entertainment conglomerate, CJ E&M, which owns CGV, the main cinema chain.

Min Byung Hun, who directed 2015's Love Never Fails, posted online that "I did not... expect coexistence (with other films), but (CJ) should at least have a conscience".

CJ fired back by saying that the use of screens "is decided by each individual theatre and is unrelated to the distributor".

The movie opens in Singapore on Aug 17 and Song will be here on Aug 8 for a promotional tour.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 01, 2017, with the headline 'Battleship Island sets record in South Korea'. Print Edition | Subscribe