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‘A Taxi Driver’ beats ‘Battleship Island’ with 8 mil. viewers

A scene from the movie “A Taxi Driver” / Courtesy of Showbox

By Yun Suh-young

The movie “A Taxi Driver” which was released on Aug. 2 is rapidly toppling box-office records.

According to statistics by the Korean Film Council (KOFIC) Monday, “A Taxi Driver” topped the box office list for the weekend garnering 1.8 million viewers from Friday to Sunday.

Since its release earlier this month, it has garnered 7.94 million viewers in total, which is the highest number among all movies released this year. It beat “Confidential Assignment” released in January which was top of the list with 7.8 million viewers. The recently released controversial film “The Battleship Island” remained at fourth on the list with 6.4 million viewers. Third place was “Spider-Man: Homecoming” with 7.3 million viewers.

“A Taxi Driver” was also top of the list for real-time online reservations followed by “War for the Planet of the Apes” which is due for release Tuesday and “Midnight Runners” which was released Aug. 9. “Midnight Runners” is also rapidly garnering viewers, coming in second on weekend box office listings with 1.3 million viewers between Friday and Sunday and 1.9 million in total.

Movie critics had predicted that if “A Taxi Driver” managed to hit the 7 million mark by the weekend, it would easily head on to a record 10 million. At the current rate, it is highly likely to hit the 10 million mark.

Politicians also helped fuel the fervor for “A Taxi Driver.”

Former presidential candidate Ahn Cheol-soo who is running for the People’s Party leadership watched the film on Aug. 9 and visited the grave in Gwangju of German reporter Jurgen Hinzpeter whom the film is about. Other politicians from the People’s Party also viewed the film while the entire Bareun Party members watched the film together on Saturday. Prime Minister Lee Nak-yeon viewed the film on Aug. 6 with 20 of his Facebook followers.

On Sunday, President Moon Jae-in visited the cinema to watch the film, after which he is said to have shed tears. Moon watched the film in the same theater with the widow of Jurgen Hinzpeter who visited Seoul to see the film. They spoke and posed for photos after the film.

“A Taxi Driver” is based on a true story of German journalist Jurgen Hinzpeter who exposed the tragedy of the Gwangju Democratization Movement of May 18, 1980, to the world, risking his life. At the time, he was driven around Gwangju, which was isolated by the government due to the democracy protest, by a taxi driver called Kim Sa-bok who tried to fulfill his duty of getting his passenger back to Seoul.

In the film, Jurgen Hinzpeter is played by German actor Thomas Kretschmann and the taxi driver Kim Sa-bok (Kim Man-seob in the film) is played by hit-maker Song Kang-ho.

“A Taxi Driver” is expected to ride on the holiday wave until National Liberation Day which falls Tuesday. Last year 5.3 million people visited the cinema during the Liberation Day holiday period from Saturday to Monday.


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