Ha Ji Won, heroine warrior of 'Sector 7', performed many of her stunts by herself

Sector 7” (directed by Kim Ji Hoon), the most anticipated summer blockbuster this year, is ending its run less than four weeks since it premiered in local theaters.

According to the Korean Film Council’s box-office database, “Sector 7” was shown in just six screens in Korea on Aug 29th and have accumulated a total of 2,237, 811 viewers so far.

It premiered on August 4th and was shown on 900 screens in its opening week. Three days after its opening, the film hit 1 million viewers and soon set a national record for garnering 1.5 millions viewers within five days.

“Sector 7” had been a highly anticipated movie, not only because it’s the first Korean 3D action blockbuster movie, but also because of its high production costs of over 10 billion won (~$9.3 million US). The movie was also helmed by stars that “guarantee ticket sales,” such as lead actress Ha Ji Won, producer Yoon Jae Gyun of “Haeundae” fame, as well as directors Kim Ji Hoon, Bong Joon Ho and Shim Hyung Rae, who each directed box office hits “May 18” (2007), “The Host” (2006), and “D-War” (2007) respectively. Therefore, “Sector 7” was expected to easily break the 10-million-viewer record set by “Haeundae” in 2009, and many movies avoided opening at the same time as “Sector 7”.

However, its movie preview was not well received by the audience. Through SNS (social network services), their sense of disappointment spread rapidly online with much criticism focused on the movie’s weak storyline and subpar CG and 3D effects. Thus, the pressure was on until the official opening on August 4th, right till the last minute. Due to production delays, morning screenings on the opening day were cancelled and the movie was finally screened at 6PM that day.

Things seem to have turned for the better after the official premiere. Ticket reservation rates for the premiere ranged between a surprisingly high 40~50%. In response to this, production company JK Film and distributor CJ E&M asserted that “because screenings on the opening day were delayed to make sure the movie was finished to completion, that actually increased the anticipation of moviegoers.”

The media had speculated whether “Sector 7” would replicate the success of “D-War” (2007), watched by 8.42 million viewers. Like “D-War”, the CG and 3D effects in “Sector 7” were produced 100% in Korea and could similarly appeal to nationalistic feelings of local viewers. However, with the huge popularity of Hollywood 3D blockbusters like “Avatar” (2009) and “Transformers 3” (2011), nationalistic pride was secondary to the higher expectations of 3D standards by the viewers, not withstanding the fact that tickets for 3D movies are more expensive than that of typical movies.

After hitting 2 million viewers on August 14th, ten days since its premiere, ticket sales for “Sector 7” seems to have passed its peak. When “Blue Salt” (directed by Lee Hyun Seung) premieres on August 31st, “Sector 7” is expected to fully end its run in theaters.

However, despite not being able to meet up to high expectations, “Sector 7” made significant contributions to the advancement of CG and 3D technologies in Korea. This attempt in the CG monster genre, along with the many green screen action scenes undertaken by Ha Ji Won and other local actors, will reduce the distance between the 3D standards of Korean and Hollywood films.

According to CJ E&M, distribution rights for “Sector 7” has already been sold to 46 countries. It would be interesting to see how “Sector 7” fares in these countries, especially China, where previous Korean monster films “D-War” and “The Host” made more than 1.8 million yuan (~$282,000) and 3 million yuan (~$470,000) respectively, and became the top two most popular Korean movies in China.

Source: Newsis, My Daily

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(above) Sector 7’s deep-sea creatures that glow in the dark