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THE OUTLAWS and its Rivals by HWANG Hee-yun /  Oct 24, 2017
Remember Korean Sleeper Hits!



No one expected crime thriller THE OUTLAWS to emerge as the victor among films released during the Chuseok holidays. All eyes were on the matchup between historical drama The Fortress and the action sequel Kingsman: The Golden Circle. Additionally, after the premiere of several movies, comedy-drama I Can Speak became a surprise rival after word of mouth spread between movie-goers about the film’s family-audience friendly story.

However, in the end, the winner for the Chuseok Holiday was neither The Fortress nor I Can Speak with THE OUTLAWS coming out on top. The crime thriller’s box office numbers are flying at the top of the charts attracting 4.17 million moviegoers in its first three weeks. This is a feat considering the film’s cast features no top stars and has a restricted rating. On October 20th, THE OUTLAWS beat Kingsman: The Golden Circle’s record of 4.8 million moviegoers, even though the latter was released a week earlier (September 27th). THE OUTLAWS has now become one of Korea’s major sleeper hits (movies that find unexpected success upon release). 

Earning the designation of “sleeper hit” has much meaning since such a title is made by audiences rather than by the industry insiders. These kind of cases have appeared in the domestic movie industry, especially films surpassing 10 million viewers. Period drama King And The Clown (2005), which had a relatively small budget of USD 3.5 million, sold 12.3 million tickets while prison comedy drama Miracle in Cell No.7 (2013) surpassed 12.81 million moviegoers without top stars. Mega hit comedy Scandal Makers (2008) and retro comedy drama Sunny (2011) did better than expected bringing in 8.25 million and 7.45 million filmgoers respectively. Although neither reached the 10-million-viewer-mark, these two movies went on to become Korea’s true sleeper hits. 

How well will THE OUTLAWS do at the box office since having gained momentum after starting down in third place? Cineastes are watching to find out.
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