One week after setting foot in the United States, Dragon Wars ("D-War
) currently occupies the 12th slot at the box office, having grossed over 8 million. Considering the number of screens – more than 2000 - this is not exactly a stellar performance. But director Shim Hyung-rae
seems to be satisfied with the result. During an interview at the Korean Embassy office in New York, Shim revealed his plans to make a sequel to Dragon Wars.
"Some major companies have seen how Dragon Wars has performed at box office and approached me about making a sequel", Shim said. "I am considering making Dragon Wars 2 and competing with real Hollywood blockbusters in 2009 summer, fair and square".
Dragon Wars is a story of a couple's fight against the Imoogi, Korean mythological creatures. Young Ethan Kendrick (Cody Arens) meets Jack, an antique dealer (Robert Forster
) who claims that Ethan is the reincarnation of ancient warrior apprentice Haram who saved his lover Narin from Buraki, an evil Imoogi. Jack gives Ethan a powerful pendant and tells him to find the reincarnation of Narin, for when she reaches 20, the couple will have to face Buraki again. Years later, Ethan is a television news reporter and meets Sarah Daniels (Amanda Brooks
), the reincarnation of Narin. The pair is pursued by Buraki and its army of monsters in Los Angeles.
Seems like a typical monster blockbuster. And like most monster movies, Dragon Wars has also been severely criticized for its "z-grade" storyline. In response to such accusations, Shim said that "what matters in making a movie is what the theater wants. What really matters is making a movie that anyone and everyone can enjoy". He went on to ask his critics why most successful Korean movies got some 100 screens in the United States, and subsequently failed in the market.
Certainly Dragon Wars is a film that anyone and everyone can watch, and its main target has been children. In Korea, Dragon Wars saw a rapid decrease in number of viewers after the school started. The fact that Dragon Wars was released in September probably has to do with its rather disappointing box office performance.
At this rate, Shim's initial expectation of $10 million at box office seems rather far away. Yet Shim is optimistic about making a profit in the U.S. market, and has good reason to believe.
A genre monster movie, Dragon Wars is more for home entertainment. In fact, most of Shim's previous movies – which also are genre monster movies – were successful in the video and DVD market, and Sony Pictures has acquired the secondary copyright of Dragon Wars, for DVD and cable market. In the big U.S. secondary copyright market, Dragon Wars is expected to put on a much better performance than in the box office.
The U.S. is not the only market on which Shim puts his hope. Currently, Shim is negotiating a European release of Dragon Wars. Russia and Japan already made deals, and Shim will begin the preparation for release in Japan on the 27th.
In addition to a potential worldwide release, Dragon Wars just generated even more attention when Shim commented on Dragon Wars and North Korea. According to some sources, there are some talks of giving Dragon Wars as a present to North Korea and Kim Jong-il at the upcoming second inter-Korea summit. Shim responded that he "would like to give it free, so that all North Korean children can enjoy the movie".
Dragon Wars was released in the U.S. on September 14th on 2276 screens, and currently is showing on 2246 screens.
By Yoo Jae-hyun