'Going by the Book,' 'Shadows' lead the way

SEOUL — Local films sit atop the Korean box office this week, led by CJ Entertainment comedy “Going by the Book.”

Pic, by debut director Ra Hee-chan, has taken $8.4 million in 10 days, dropping only 8% in its second weekend.

Screenplay by filmmaker/playwright Jang Jin focuses on a mild-mannered cop who takes a bank robbery drill a little too seriously.

At No. 2 for the second week, femme-centered period mystery “Shadows in the Palace” has taken $7.4 million for distributor Cinema Service. Pic, by debut director Kim Mee-jeung, premiered in competition at the San Sebastian Intl. Film Festival in September.

Veteran director Lee Myung-Se had less success with “M,” taking just under $2 million in its opening weekend on a wide 451 screen release. Stylish head-scratcher has had polarized reviews, but distributor Chungeorahm/M&FC were hoping to ride widespread media attention and the presence of young star Kang Dong-won to a higher opening.

Another veteran helmer, Hur Jin-ho, has had more success with his fourth film, “Happiness.” Pic, which like “M” preemed in Toronto, has taken north of $9 million in four weeks for distributor Showbox.

Meanwhile, Sundance 2007 Audience Award winner “Once” from Ireland has earned more than $750,000 earned since its Sept. 20 release, a new record for a specialty release.

Unspooling on an initial 10 prints from Jinjin Pictures, the film has ridden enthusiastic word of mouth to a box office cume of more than twice what it earned in the U.K. Currently at 24 engagements, the pic appears to have plenty of gas left in the tank.

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