Pic up 23% at S. Korean box office

SEOUL — Serial murder pic “The Chaser” is kicking up a storm at the South Korean box office, rising 23% in its second weekend to take the No.1 slot with $4.7 million.

The modestly budgeted debut film by Na Hong-jin has won broad support from local critics, and local auds have started to follow suit. Pic has now grossed $11.8 million in ten days and has widened its release to 505 screens, almost a quarter of the nation’s total.

The unexpected success of the film, which features no big-name stars, has helped to re-inject some life into the Korean film industry after a moribund 2007. Another unexpected hit from January, handball drama “Forever the Moment”, recently passed the $27 million mark. The two films have helped Korean cinema to maintain a 60% market share in the year to date.

Meanwhile “Jumper” is also enjoying a strong run, having grossed $8.8 million in ten days. The Hayden Christensen starrer dropped 43% in its second weekend.

Japanese film “L: Change the World”, a spin-off of the popular “Death Note” series, took $1.0 million in its first week. Although a step down from the other “Death Note” films, this still placed it significantly ahead of Oscar contenders “Atonement” ($600,000), “Juno” ($210,000), and “No Country for Old Men” ($89,000) which also opened this weekend.

Mexican-Spanish horror film “The Orphanage” also took $178,000 in its second weekend to bring its total to $1.1 million.

“Once Upon a Time in Corea” remained the strongest among a string of local films released ahead of the Lunar New Year holidays. Pic has now grossed $10.4 million.

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