Korean horror takes top B.O. spot

'Black House' creeps past Hollywood hits

SEOUL — For the first time in eight weeks, South Korea cinema has turned out a local hit with horror title “Black House” taking $3.6 million from Thursday to Sunday on 353 screens for the No. 1 box office spot.

Pic is an adaptation of a novel by Japanese writer Yusuke Kishi about an insurance agent who suspects one of his clients of fraud and murder. Co-financed by Japanese studio Kadokawa, “Black House” marks a return to inhouse production for Korean major CJ Entertainment.

Meanwhile Hollywood pic “Ocean’s Thirteen” passed the 1 million ticket mark in its second week for a $7 million cume, and “Shrek the Third” landed in third place with $17.6 million in three weeks.

Only other local debut was Gina Kim’s Korean-U.S. co-production “Never Forever,” which screened in competition at Sundance. It opened at No. 9 with $320,000.

Local pics will have a tough ride next weekend — Michael Bay’s “Transformers” opens wide on Thursday.

Korean cinema still has a long way to go to turn around what many consider a highly disappointing year. According to the Korean Film Council’s online box office information system, local films have a 47.7% market share for the year to date, compared to more than 60% for last year as a whole.

Highest grossing local film is CJ’s “Voice of a Murderer” with $22 million, whereas last year saw hits on the scale of “The Host” ($90 million), “King and the Clown” ($84 million), “Tazza: The High Rollers” ($47 million) and “My Boss My Teacher” ($42 million).

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