Cloning advances equal bid B.O. for pic in South Korea

Michael Bay’s “The Island” hasn’t found much traction with domestic auds or most of the world so far.

But in South Korea, the pic’s action take on the perils of cloning has seemingly caught the zeitgeist.

Pic opened strongly there and is well on its way to being a hit, having generated $13.8 million through Aug. 3. It was the pic’s best bow in any market to date.

South Korea also holds the distinction of being a world leader in cloning and stem-cell technology, having announced the cloning of a human embryo some 18 months ago.

And last week, a team of South Korean scientists announced the first successful cloning of a dog. Scientists called the feat “the Mount Everest of cloning.”

Big cloning news. Big box office for “The Island.” Coincidence?

Sue Kroll, prexy of marketing for Warner Bros. Intl., thinks not.

“Because of the interest in cloning in South Korea there was an incredible publicity campaign there, and the subject got great word of mouth.”

In the U.S., DreamWorks wavered between marketing “The Island” as a sci-fi cloning movie or a straight actioner. Eventually, they chose the action route. Auds didn’t bite.

Warner Bros. played up the action aspects in South Korea, where action sells, but also touted the cloning angle.

“We had an interesting and unique blend of attributes because of local interest in cloning and the local marketplace liking action films,” Kroll says. “We had a good date, a good campaign and a good angle.”

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more