Roaring Currents

HONG KONG — Local blockbuster “Roaring Currents” continued to dominate the South Korean box office, winning the weekend by a sea mile over maritime contender “Pirates,” in second place, and “Hercules,” which could only manage seventh spot in its opening frame.

“Roaring Currents,” a 16th century-set action epic, scored 2.81 million ticket sales (worth $21.6 million), and duly became the biggest film of the year when it finished the Sunday night sessions with 10.8 million ticket sales (worth $80.4 million). That put it ahead of “Frozen,” which for a few months held the crown, and on Monday morning distributor CJ Entertainment announced that “Roaring Currents” had gone further and passed the 11 million mark.

The ability of CJ to hold the film on screens controlled by its sister company CJ-CGV has been criticized in many quarters, but “Roaring Currents, with star Choi Min-sik in good form and handing defeat to neighbor Japan, seems to have struck a genuine chord with audiences. The film accounted for 58% of ticket sales and its admissions total for the second weekend was down only 16%.

“Pirates,” from rival distributor-exhibitor conglomerate Lotte Entertainment, managed 1.24 million ticket sales (worth $9.75 million) over the weekend from 824 screens and a 26% market share, compared with “Roaring Currents”s 59% market share. Taking into account some two weeks of previews, “Pirates” stands on cumulative attendance of 1.80 million and gross box office of $13.4 million (KRW13.9 billion).

The strong holdover by “Roaring Currents” stood in contrast with the 60% tumbles recorded by Hollywood sequels “How To Train Your Dragon 2,” down from third place to fourth in its third week and “Guardians of the Galaxy 2,” unchanged in fourth spot. “Dragon 2″ managed a third weekend gross of $1.80 million for a cumulative of $20.9 million. “Guardians 2″ managed a second weekend score of $1.61 million for an 11 day cume of $8.54 million.

“Hercules” was a given a modest 274 screen release, but was utterly powerless to fight off the local champions. It managed a $346,000 weekend, giving a cume including previews of just $525,000.

The “Roaring Currents” success story looks set to continue for at least a few days longer, possibly to the ‘Liberation Day’ holiday due on Friday. Pre-bookings remain high, according to local reports, and could put the film ahead of the 13.6 million attendance record held by “Avatar.” Other prognosticators point to a final ticket sales total reaching over 15 million and the film becoming Korea’s first ever to gross more than $100 million.

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