Korea Box Office: Don Lee’s ‘The Roundup: Punishment’ Takes Punchy $5 Million on Opening Day

Korean comedy action film “The Roundup: Punishment” destroyed all competition in local theaters on its Wednesday opening day.

The film earned $4.92 million from 821,000 ticket sales, according to data from Kobis, the tracking service operated by the Korean Film Council (Kofic). That represented a crushing 97% share of the day’s theatrical market.

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Including a smattering of previews over the latest weekend, the film finished Wednesday with a cumulative of $5.26 million earned from 862,000 spectators.

Earlier, it was reported that the film had broken the Korean record for advanced ticket sales. On the eve of its arrival in cinemas, the film had notched up 830,000 pre-sales for Wednesday and other subsequent days. That comfortably exceeded previous record-holder “Along With the Gods: The Last 49 Days,” which pre-sold 646,000 tickets in 2018, and last year’s “The Roundup: No Way Out,” which pre-sold 640,000 before arriving in cinemas.

The film, which sees a tough-guy cop go after gangsters involved in drugs, cryptocurrencies and online gambling, is directed by Heo Myeong-haeng and it co-stars Kim Moo-yeol and Lee Dong-hwi. It is the fourth film in a franchise which kicked off in 2017 with “The Outlaws” and was followed by “The Roundup” in 2022 and “The Roundup: No Way Out” in 2023.

Don Lee, who also goes by the name Ma Dong-seok, is the star of the film and the genius behind the franchise. He takes credits as planner, producer and co-screenwriter.

At the Berlin Film Festival, where “Punishment” had its world premiere in February, Lee told Variety that the franchise is based on real-world police cases and that he intends the film series to run to eight instalments.

Variety’s review of the new title waxed lyrical about the franchise’s evolution and the latest film’s purity. “[It] minimizes unnecessary originality, while gloriously maximizing the opportunities for Lee to crack wise, or look aggrieved and a little bored, as though he’s just remembered he needs to do laundry, all while his meaty forearms land a flurry of sledgehammer punches so rapid their recipients, often quite literally, do not know what hit them. This, truly, is cinema,” said critic Jessica Kiang.

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