By Kwaak Je-yup
The crime drama "The Thieves" has posted the best opening in Korean cinema history, its studio Showbox Mediaplex announced on Monday.
Opened Wednesday, director Choi Dong-hoon's latest film attracted close to 2.9 million moviegoers over five days, equivalent to more than 20.7 billion won in ticket sales.
This bests the previous week's opening of "The Dark Knight Rises", the final installment of Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy, which lured 2.4 million people, or 17.9 billion won in revenue, in four days.
The latest trend in the Korean cinema industry is to pull up the opening day to at least Thursday, with more studios moving the date even further up for blockbusters.
Comparing just the three-day weekend figures, Korea Film Council's official tally shows that "The Dark Knight Rises" actually beat "The Thieves" in sales by about 100 million won (14.8 billion to 14.7 billion).
But given that the homegrown feature managed to beat the American hero flick in headcount - the latter narrowly missed the 2 million mark while the former edged slightly past it - the higher sales figure for the latest Batman franchise reflects the more expensive ticket price for IMAX cinemas. The seats for the special-format screen are reported to have sold out in advance for three weeks since the July 19 opening.
Projections for this week are mixed, given that "The Dark Knight Rises" has garnered more favorable reviews among critics and Netizens. With millions of students and workers on vacation and no major release slated for this week, the battle for the box office throne may come as a surprise.
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