South Korea film 'The Himalayas' surpasses 'Star Wars' at Korean box office

South Korean films have usurped Hollywood in market share in the last five years.

By Elizabeth Shim

SEOUL, Jan. 4 (UPI) -- A South Korean film based on the true story of a hiker is No. 1 at the Korean box office for the third weekend in a row, surpassing Hollywood blockbusters Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Sherlock, starring Benedict Cumberbatch.

The Himalayas earned $8.55 million over the three-day New Year's holiday weekend, drawing 1.24 million moviegoers, Variety reported. Over three weekends since its release, the film's producer CJ Entertainment has earned $42.1 million from 6.37 million admissions.


By contrast, Star Wars: The Force Awakens fell to fourth place to earn $2.46 million between Friday and Saturday. In South Korea, the top-grossing Hollywood film earned a total of $47 million from 7.07 million admissions after seven weeks.

More South Koreans are attending movies, and their numbers have increased every year since 2011, Hollywood Reporter reported, and South Korean films have usurped Hollywood in market share in the last five years.

The Himalayas is a film focusing on the real-life story of hikers and their harrowing adventures near Mount Everest and may be striking a chord with South Korean moviegoers for its portrayal of Korean leadership and perhaps even masculinity, wrote film critic Pierce Conran for the Hankyoreh, a South Korean newspaper.


Um Hong-gil, a well-known hiker in South Korea, is celebrated for being the first Korean, and 11th person in the world, for scaling all 14 summits above 8,000 meters, which earned him the Himalayan Crown.

But the story also has elements of melodrama and self-sacrifice. Um is portrayed as a loyal friend when he sets out to retrieve his friend's body, risking his life and those of his team in the "Death Zone" of Mount Everest, where bodies are often left behind, according to climbers making their way to the top.

Conran wrote the hiking genre may be popular in South Korea as it is one of the country's top pastimes – and that the Sylvester Stallone drama Cliffhanger may have had an impact on audiences when the film drew more than a million in 1993.

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