‘Murderer’ kills at S. Korea box office

Audiences respond to 'Voice' overseas

CJ Entertainment’s “Voice of a Murderer” opened to newsy numbers in South Korea over the weekend, taking $10.1 million (1.46 million admissions) from Thursday to Sunday.

High-profile pic based on the real-life kidnapping of a news anchor’s son in 1991 opened on 397 screens and expanded quickly to 508, boding well for its future performance.

Although it received a mixed reception from critics, the film by Park Jin-pyo (“You Are My Sunshine”) marks a strong start for new production company Zip Cinema, headed by producer Eugene Lee (“Untold Scandal”).

Meanwhile, the embattled Korean animation industry is enjoying its best month in decades. A re-release of 1976 classic “Robot Taekwon V” by Cinema Service has far exceeded expectations, selling 508,200 tickets for $3.5 million from Jan. 18-31. This pushes it past “Blue Seagull,” the former record holder among Korean animated features, which drew half a million viewers in 1994.

The strong local interest in “Robot Taekwon V” vindicates a decision by the Korean Film Council to restore the damaged film with the discovery of a new print in 2003. The restoration, the most ambitious project of its type to be attempted in South Korea, cost $950,000 and took two years to complete.

Meanwhile, new release “Yobi the Five Tailed Fox” by South Korea’s best-known animator Lee Sung-gang (“My Beautiful Girl Mari”) is also finding a limited degree of success. According to distributor CJ Entertainment, the film has notched 243,000 admissions ($1.7 million) in its first eight days on release, and the coming Lunar New Year holidays are expected to push the total past 500,000.

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