The deal was one of a raft of 116 territories pre-sold on the film by CJ Entertainment at this month’s European Film Market.
Inspired by British author Sarah Waters’ original novel “Fingersmith,” “Handmaiden” is Park’s first Korean-language feature as a director since 2009’s “Thirst.”
Park’s adaptation involves a young Korean female pickpocket from the slums, who is hired by a charming con man to join an elaborate scam. She becomes the personal servant of a wealthy Japanese heiress and seduces her.
Among the other sales were deals with Phantom (Japan), Catchplay (Taiwan), Edko (HK/Macau), Dreamwest (Australia/New Zealand), Bloomsbury (Mongolia), Kurmaca (Turkey), Gutek Film (Poland), Aero Films (Czech Republic/Slovakia), Mozinet (Hungary), AMA (Greece/Cyprus), Koch Media (German-speaking Europe), The Jokers (French-speaking territories) and Swen (Latin America).
“There was fierce competition among many distributors to acquire the rights for their territories. The high expectations of maestro Park combined with the high quality visuals in the promo reels drew pre-sales on a nearly unprecedented scale,” said Kini Kim, CJ’s head of international sales & distribution.
After Bong Joon-ho’s “Snowpiercer,” which pre-sold to 167 territories ahead of its theatrical opening in 2013, “Handmaiden” is the company’s biggest sales success.
CJ is understood to be holding back rights in China, Indonesia and Vietnam, where the company has direct distribution operations through local joint ventures.