Korean ‘Chef’ bests ‘Beowulf’

Heo adaptation has earned $14 million

SEOUL — Food competition yarn “Le Grand Chef” topped the Korean box office for the third consecutive weekend, narrowly besting the opening frame of “Beowulf.”

Produced by Show East, “Chef” has sold 2 million tickets in 19 days for a $14 million cume. Poorly reviewed pic has nonetheless fallen somewhat short of expectations given the hype surrounding the popular comic by Heo Young-man that serves as the film’s source material.

Previous Heo adaptation to hit screens, Choi Dong-hoon’s “Tazza,” took more than $45 million last fall.

“Beowulf” sold half a million tickets for a $3.7 million opening at No. 2, beating out well-reviewed local thriller “Seven Days,” which took $2.5 million. Latter stars Kim Yun-jin of ABC’s “Lost” and was picked up for remake rights by Summit Entertainment.

At No. 4, Ang Lee’s “Lust, Caution” dropped a miniscule 3% in its second weekend, bringing its total to $4.6 million. Film is playing especially well with thirtysomething women.

Other new Korean releases failed to generate much traction, including the ambitious 1980s-set pic “Scout,” which took $1.2 million to place at No. 5. Film by Kim Hyun-seok (“When Romance Meets Destiny”) centers around a famous baseball pitcher and the viciously suppressed democratic uprising that formed the basis of box office hit “May 18.”

Meanwhile, local comedy “Going by the Book” has taken $14.8 million in five weeks, and Irish indie sensation “Once” is holding on at No. 10 with a $1.1 million gross after two months in limited release.

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