While much has been made of how China’s massive cinema market finally restarted operations the previous week after being closed by the COVID-19 outbreak, they were not actually the first country in Asia to let movie-houses run once more. South Korea had its reopening earlier, which explains the July 15 premier of “Peninsula,” a loose sequel of sorts to the country’s 2016 zombie apocalypse blockbuster “Train to Busan.” As the month comes down to its final week, the producers of “Peninsula” can be proud that their film, despite being released amidst a pandemic with a skittish movie-going audience, is now the highest-grossing 2020 Asian movie.
Inquirer.net has it that as of morning this Monday, July 27, Next Entertainment World’s “Train to Busan” follow-up “Peninsula” has made it past the break-even level, in terms of ticket sales, and start turning a profit. The zombie thriller has sold 2.86 million tickets, which is over the even watermark of 2.5 million, and only after 11 days on South Korean cinemas. From these sales the box office for “Peninsula” has been calculated to 25.1 million won, or $21 million. It is expected that come the following day, Tuesday July 28, the film would have surpassed 3 million tickets sold.
And its home country is not the only Asian nation that has been scared stiff all over again. “Peninsula” has since premiered in theaters on Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand and Mongolia (the last one as of Friday last week, July 24) even as the COVID-10 situation remains precarious elsewhere. For Thailand’s release, “Peninsula” actually broke the box-office record of its predecessor “Train to Busan” as that nation’s best-received Korean film. Compare $1.3 million in Thai ticket sales from “Peninsula” to “Busan” with “only” $650,000.
The film takes place in the same setting as “Train to Busan,” with a prologue from the same timeframe as the initial zombie outbreak and a main story four years later. A former Korean marine (played by Gang Dong-won) and his brother-in-law (Kim Do-yoon) undertake a secret operation from their evacuation point in Hong Kong, to return to the UN-quarantined Korean peninsula, where they team up with a family of trapped survivors led by a mother (Lee Jun-hyung) to escape from not just the zombie horde but a former South Korean military unit turned rogue.
“Peninsula,” which was scheduled for screening at Cannes 2020 before it was canceled by the pandemic, has a confident release schedule for 185 countries around the world, and will premiere in selected North American and European territories this coming August.
Image courtesy of Straits Times