SEOUL — Hollywood blockbusters continue to subdue their Korean counterparts, with “Shrek the Third” easily fending off competition from big-budget local costumer “Hwang jin yi.”
The green ogre opened on 450 screens on Wednesday and amassed $11.3 million in five days, the best opening ever for an animated pic.
Cinema Service’s “Hwang jin yi,” based on the life of Korea’s most famous courtesan/poet, opened wider on 489 screens but grossed only $4.9 million. The film features star wattage in actress Song Hye-gyo, but has received a lukewarm response from local crix.
Faring somewhat better is arthouse title “Secret Sunshine,” which was boosted when Jeon Do-yeon took home an actress award at last month’s Cannes Film Festival. In its third week, the film has now grossed $9.4 million — a significant achievement for a film that can hardly be considered audience-friendly. It remains at No. 4 at the box office.
With grosses of $34 million and $31 million respectively, “Spider-Man 3” and “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” rank as the year’s highest grossing films.
Meanwhile, yet another Hollywood blockbuster got an early start when Michael Bay’s “Transformers” held the world’s first press screening in Seoul on Monday. Pic is the focus of an Asia-wide junket — the first of its kind to be held in South Korea — which Bay and actress Megan Fox attended.
“Transformers” will preem on June 28 in South Korea, a week before the July 4 Stateside launch.
The decision to open in South Korea recognizes fact that, for titles of this kind, the country can produce box office grosses not far off from Japan or Blighty. Early launch will also give film an extra week in theaters before “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” hits on July 13.
Observers might also be forgiven for interpreting this as Bay’s thanks to a country that turned another of his pics, “The Island,” into one of the strongest hits of 2005. Pic underperformed in virtually every other territory.