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‘Battleship Island’ sees record-breaking opening day, accused of screen monopoly

Much-talked about war flick “The Battleship Island” drew in a record number of viewers on opening day, but has also been accused of monopolizing screens throughout theaters here.

According to Korean Film Council figures, 970,516 tickets were sold for screenings on Wednesday of “The Battleship Island,“ the largest figure achieved by a movie on its first day in Korean cinemas.

The previous record was held by “The Mummy,” starring Tom Cruise, which opened in June. The film amassed 872,965 tickets on its opening day.

Among Korean films, last year’s surprise hit “Train to Busan” held the previous record at 872,673 tickets sold.

"The Battleship Island" (CJ Entertainment)

On Wednesday, “The Battleship Island” was screened 10,174 times on 2,027 screens across the country, accounting for some 87 percent of all cinema screens in Korea.

Previously, the film that had occupied the largest number of screens was last year’s Marvel superhero flick “Captain America: Civil War,” with 1,991 screens.

”Battleship Island” is distributed by CJ Entertainment, the movie arm of Korea’s largest entertainment conglomerate CJ E&M, which owns CGV, the country’s largest movie theater chain.

The film’s distributor CJ has faced accusations of monopolizing screens for numerous films in the past, including last year’s “Operation Chromite.”

Director Min Byung-hun, known for 2015’s “Love Never Fails,” criticized the company via social media Wednesday, saying, “I did not even expect coexistence (with other films). But (CJ) should at least have a conscience.”

In response to the controversy, CJ said Thursday there could be an exaggeration in the numbers. But the company acknowledged that around 2,000 screens had been readied for the film’s opening.

CJ added that “the number of screens on which to show the movie is decided by each individual theater and is unrelated to the distributor.”

“Battleship Island,” which cost 26 billion won ($23.4 million) to produce, needs 8 million ticket sales to break even.

The movie, directed by Ryoo Seung-wan and starring Song Joong-ki, Hwang Jung-min and So Ji-sub centers on the mass escape of Koreans who were forced into slave labor by the Japanese on Hashima Island.

By Rumy Doo (