SEOUL, April 18 (Yonhap) — "The King and the Clown," a modestly budgeted period drama, ended its 112-day run at Korean theater screens Tuesday night after smashing local box-office records.
The movie, about a gay love triangle involving a court jester during Korea’s Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910), sold over 12.3 million tickets by Monday to rake in more than 100 billion won (US$104.8 million), according to film distributor Cinema Service.
It beat the previous record of 11.74 million tickets set by
"Tae Guk Gi: The Brotherhood of War" (2004) to reach a net profit of over 28 billion won.
Testament to its snowballing popularity, director Lee Joon-ik’s period drama opened on 190 screens on Dec. 28 before peaking at 400 screens in February.
More than one-fifth of South Korea’s 48.2-million population are believed to have seen the movie.
The movie has generated much discussion at home for its broaching of the sensitive issue of homosexuality, still a taboo subject in Korea’s Confucian society, as well as its strong narrative and the stellar performances of its cast.
It has also been praised for its economy in an age of spiraling budgets. The movie cost some 4.3 billion won to make, less than a third of the budget for the Korean War epic "Tae Guk Gi" (14.7 billion won).
"The King and the Clown" will compete at the Cannes Film Festival this year under its new English name, "The Royal Jester," according to its publicist, CJ Entertainment.