By Kim Tae-jong
"King and the Clown," a story about a love triangle between a king and male court jesters in Choson Kingdom, is expected to become the No. 1 hit in the nation’s film history on Sunday.
The film "King and the Clown" is expected to break time boxoffice
records and become the nation’s No. 1 hit on Sunday. Released
here on Dec. 29, it has drawn almost 12 million moviegoers.
According to the film’s distribution company Cinema Service, the film will break the previous record of 11.74 million ticket sales set by the 2004 war movie "Tae Guk Gi: The Brotherhood of War.” By Sunday, it will have taken 67 days to break the record after being released on Dec. 29. The number indicates one out of every four people in the entire South Korean population has watched the film.
Based on the acclaimed play "Yi," the film took three historical figures from Choson Kingdom _ tyrant King Yonsan, his concubine Chang Nok-su and court jester Kong-gil _ and tells a fictionalized account of their relationship with the addition of fictional characters.
With its growing popularity, the film has become a cultural phenomenon and critics believe its success has opened a new era for the local film industry.
The film’s success, despite its homosexual theme that has been a taboo subject in Korean cinema, purportedly indicates that conservative society has become more open to sexual minorities.
Made with a relatively low budget of 4.5 billion won and without any big celebrities, it surpassed other local and Hollywood blockbusters including "King Kong," "Typhoon," "Running Wild" and "Blue Swallow" since the year-end season.
Different from blockbusters that spend a huge amount of money on marketing and usually open at more than 300 screens nationwide in the first week, "King and the Clown" started showing on 255 screens. It later increased to some 400 screens as moviegoers flocked to cinemas, encouraged by early viewers’ recommendations online or in-person.
The film’s success also coined a phrase "Wangnam Pein," which refers to the film’s maniacs who have watched it over and over again.
"King and the Clown’" has also contributed to the success of the original play, which encored in Seoul for two months and is now being staged nationwide. A musical version of the text is expected to premiere in October as well. Thanks to the impressive performance of the film, the market share of local films was 77.6 percent in January and 68.8 percent in February.