S. Korean box office hits high

August ranks a best month in industry history

SEOUL — August ranked as South Korea’s best month in box office history, with local hits “D-War” and “May 18” powering the monthly total to 21.92 million admissions.

According to leading exhibitor CGV, this figure tops the previous record of 21.43 million admissions set in January 2006, when Korean film “King and the Clown” was in the midst of a record-breaking run.

Box office for the year to date is still 3.9% down on 2006, with local films taking 49.3% of the total. Local market share for August alone was 79.6%, the highest since last October.

“D-War” and “May 18” now rank as the 5th and 8th best selling Korean films of all time, with 8.2 million and 7 million admissions respectively. Although released a week earlier than “D-War” on July 25, “May 18” has shown strong staying power and is now ahead of its rival in weekly box office rankings.

Meanwhile, “D-War” helmer Shim Hyung-rae has announced that Sony Pictures has picked up all ancillary rights to his film ahead of its North American release on September 14.

Re-titled “Dragon Wars” for the U.S. market, the English-language film is reportedly scheduled to go out on 1500 screens — far and away the biggest-scale release ever for a Korean film.

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