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‘D-War’ monster opening in S. Korea

Monster movie scares up killer box office

SEOUL — South Korean monster movie “D-War” made a formidable bow at the local box office, selling $2.9 million worth of tickets at 530 screens on its first day, marginally below last year’s hit “The Host,” which opened on 620 screens.

Helmer Shim Hyung-rae’s English-language pic is a do-or-die release for distributor Showbox, given the film’s record-busting budget ($35 million, though once described as high as $70 million) and distrib’s uncertain position after the recent sale of sister company Megabox, one of South Korea’s top exhibitors.

“D-War” has had one of the most aggressive marketing campaigns that the local industry has ever seen. A three-minute clip added before the end credits extols the helmer’s dedication to producing a Hollywood-style blockbuster in South Korea, as nationalist folksong “Arirang” plays on the film’s soundtrack.

Audience response to the film has run at both extremes, though most agree that the film’s technical qualities and CGI are more accomplished than the original screenplay, about a giant snake-like creature that smashes up downtown L.A.

Freestyle Releasing will unspool the pic Stateside in mid-September under the title “Dragon Wars.”

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