A Taxi Driver Speeds Past Battleship Island to Become Top Grossing K-movie of 2017 to Date


There was such a hue and cry over hyped summer K-movie Battleship Island‘s box office returns vis-a-vis how its production company scheduled it in over 80% of the theaters during its opening weekend, but in the end it’s water under the bridge as a quality quietly wins out over a more bombastic rival. After just two weeks in theaters A Taxi Driver has overtaken Battleship Island’s box office receipts, with Battleship premiering a week over A Taxi Driver, and is now the highest grossing K-movie of 2017.

A Taxi Driver now sits at the 26th spot with over 8 million admissions, and right below in the 27th place is an earlier released 2017 movie Confidential Assignment (Cooperation) with 7.8 million admissions. Coming in as the third highest grossing movie of 2017 is Battleship Island currently in the 44th position with 6.5 million admissions. Unlike Battleship (and to some extent Confidential Assignment), A Taxi Driver is getting glowing domestic and overseas reviews for Song Kang Ho‘s incredible performance and the small scale but larger implications of the narrative surrounding coverage of the Gwangju massacre as seen through the eyes of a taxi driver and his foreign correspondent passenger.

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A Taxi Driver Speeds Past Battleship Island to Become Top Grossing K-movie of 2017 to Date — 42 Comments

  1. Gongrats to the whole ’A Taxi Driver’ team! I’m happy for Ryu Joon Yeol too. I hope he stays in Chungmuro and builds his portfolio there, before he finds a good drama script. Lucky Romance had all the ingredients to become really good but the writing went bad towards the middle and the end and Hwang Jung Eum (congrats to her for having a a baby btw) or her character became increasingly annoying and showing the viewers that her acting needs improvement. It’s too bad that Ryu Joon Yeol got stuck with a drama like that.

  2. I also think Battleship Island got quite a great number of admission, but considering the budget and hype, it didn’t do too well. A Taxi Driver with less hype got more admissions, so in the end the only thing that really matters in a success of a film is the word of mouth factor. Aside from an actually good story, strong acting and a subject matter that touches people. Battleship Island seems to have been targeted to touch people’s patriotic sentiments while A Taxi Driver has been targeted to that too, but more from a regular Joe’s view and more closely related to the political scandal South-Korea has faced this year.

  3. like i said last time,the noise that was surrounding battleship island about screen monopoly was ridiculous because demand always determine screen allocation and BI had the most reserved ticket sales in the history of chungmuro.it was only fair that BI also opened with high screen allocation in history.

    unfortunately BI was not judge by what it was but what koreans wanted it to be.there was a loud and persistent critism surounding it to the extent that,the film lost all credibility and heavily dropped in viewers admission which was unfortunate.this is why we have creative license but i guess koreans are a different breed altogether.

    • The film didn’t lost it’s credibility though. Over six million admissions is good, but not for a mega budget high-expectation film like Battleship Island. Also, creative license while depicting historical events is like treading on a thin ice, if that’s what you meant. So Koreans aren’t really a different breed because BI’s sales only reflected people’s sentiments on this issue. I would have reacted the same way too if my country’s film monopoly tried to pull the same stint as CJ E&M. Also, don’t let your bias muddle your rational thinking 🙂

      • I read that the movies also received a lot of flacks for the bad acting of most of the stars including drama’s powerhouse like SJK and SJS. Movies’ audiences are more picky than dramas’ viewers, and there’sa certain limit to what extend creative license to history is applicable. With BI trying to ammend history, I am not surprised that Koreans not liking it.

    • Regardless of creative licence, distortion of historical events is not ideal, especially real events which may have affected the parents/grandparents/relatives of the viewing public. It was not a case of what Koreans wanted it to be, but rather what it truly was. That’s why the film lost its credibility. And Koreans are not any different from other nationalities when it comes to their opinions of films which misrepresent tragic historical events such as WW2 & Gwangju massacre. Recommend you watch May 18 and Operation Chromite, there’s no happy ending.

    • It just didn’t review very well from anyone. It didn’t have good word of mouth and none of the actors (minus the little girl? I think) were reviewed well either. It wasn’t treated unfairly. If anything it did get a big chance (like you said broke records opening), but couldn’t get other people to watch it. It’s not a total failure though.

      • Agree that reviews have been terrible even in the acting dept. BI failed not just b’cos of history controversy. It was so hyped up and at such a frenzy pace that one cant help but suspect CJ cld hve sensed things might not turn up as well as they hope for. BI simply has not live up to the hype.

  4. Battleship Island didn’t even break even because of its huge budget. also There was a huge controversy surrounding it which surprisingly was ignored by international news sites.

  5. The times following Gwangju uprise and those student murders really took South-Korea fast forward to the current democracy they have there and the society they have today. I definitely have to check out ’A Taxi Driver’ when it’s accessible to me. Also, am happy for Ryu Joon Yeol. He is building a promising career with films so he definitely did break ‘the Reply curse’, although not in the dramaland.

  6. changmuro is truly fishy regarding the numbers and the movies that come on top. Even as a foreigner i believe the admission numbers are not real nor ideal and hey I could be wrong but just gathering enough intel and analysing the movies makes me more and more skeptical

    • There’s nothing fishy or unreal about the numbers. The ticket sales are captured daily and you can see the box office numbers at the Box Office section of the Korean Film Council’s website (www.kobiz.or.kr). If there’s something fishy going on, the movie’s producer & distributor would have made noise already.

    • ??????? What’s fishy about it? it’s very clear as day with the admission numbers that you can read it sites like kobiz. Please stop spreading unfounded hush hush especially if oppars’ movie didn’t do as well as the other. Anyways, welcome to the changmuro world and not fluffy dramaland.

    • Just ’cause your bias ain’t winning.. i-fans sure say the weirdest things when the truth is unacceptable to them. One day, ratings are false and rigged and the other day, admission numbers aren’t real but only approximations. LOL 🙂

    • Some have come online already, yes, even Korean 2017 films. I have yet to check Taxi Driver. But acting-wise Song Kang Ho >> Song Joong Ki so I’m just guessing that all factors together Taxi was just better.

      • SJK was not even close to the lead in BI. His part was really small, so I’m not sure why he’s getting compared to the main actor in Taxi Driver.

      • @Kashmir, you hit the nail on the head. You knew my exact train of thought, amazing 🙂

      • because he’s most famous and the one with the big news that overshadowed everything, but he was not billed as the lead in the movie. you should do a little research before you hate on a younger actor tbh.

      • @me uhmmm since when me stating my opinion that Song Kang Ho is a better actor than Song Joong Ki is hating? Lol of course I knew that SJK ain’t BI’s lead, but he is one of the main actors and his name was used to promote the movie.

    • Hi,
      I have seen both movies, in California and Portland, on big screen, yeah:):). I did like both but taxi driver was really really on a different plane. The courage that this man showed, in face of such an atrocious massacre, is so heart moving. But I really think both are worth seeing

  7. @prettyautumn.i agree with you on being bias because of its male leads and i wanted the film to become a hit,but i sincerely believe that a film does not succeed because more screens are allocated to it.

    movies with more screens opens big so word of mouth travels faster and if its negative,nobody watches equals to empty theaters so screens is reduced and given to the deserved movie with less screens.

    what i want to say is no matter how many screens a movie has initially,the fate of a movie depends on how good it is .

    for example bi was released with despicable me 3 on the same day with bi having superior number of screens but look now,the tide has changed with dm3 having larger screens because of demand.

  8. Congrats to Taxi Driver. Song Kang Ho is my all time favorite Korean actor (ever since I have watched Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance) and I’m always happy to see his films succeed (he usually – thought not always – chooses good films to be in and always gives a great performance no matter what the role).

  9. Bi did pretty well despite so many controversy yet it flopped. I also believe they chose wrong release date. Song kang ho is more popular compared to all the cast of battleship island.

  10. @kashmir nope, In Korea hwang Jung min, so ji sub are more established Actor and popular than sjk. In Korea movie was sold on combined effort and star power of all 3 main actors not just sjk alone. But on international scale sjk name is often used to promote the movie because he is more popular than the former two. And the movie is doing well internationally because of star power and also to international viewers movie looks very promising and well made.

  11. @prettyautumn so why do you have to compare SJK and Song Kang ho acting where in SJK only has little screen time with BI movie. There are a lot of actors acted in BI and not only SJK. In Korea, all actors/actress names are used in promoting the movie and not only SJK. In Korea, they knew that SJK’s role is just supporting and will only appear at the middle part of the movie. You calling other posters here as bias but maybe you’re the one that focus on SJK’s promotion only. A Taxi Driver is about SKH role and BI is about HJM and his daughter roles mostly.

    Well BI did well on its first week and that is because of their promotions, it reached 970,516 viewers on its opening night. However the movie was involved with a lot of controversies that’s why the movie lost its power and at the same time A Taxi Driver has shown already.

    • Okay, the comparison between SJK and the veteran actor SKH was unfair, I acknowledge that. It’s hard to make any comparisons between SKH and HJM because both are really great actors. I actually like HJM a tad better even. SJK is a good actor too, but maybe he needs more experience before acting alongside with huge veteran actors, so that his lack of experience won’t be too highlighted. But I was not hating on SJK at all. I’ve only watched BI so I can’t say which is better.

      • You are not hating on him but he’s the only one you always mention. You said that you already watched BI so you already knew that the movie is almost about HJM’s role and yet you compared SJK with SKH. How about SJS and the actress, you did not see them on the movie? Actually, you’re the one highlighting SJK’s lack of experience and there is nothing wrong of him acting alongside with huge veteran actors. As far as I know based on critics review, all actors potrayal were criticized on the movie except for the child actress.

  12. Hwang Jung Min is also a very good actor and is very popular.

    So Ji Sub (I love him to bits and think him the most handsome man in East Asia) is not even on the same acting planet as SKH and HJM.

    As for Song JK, he is a talented actor and I want to watch more of him. However he just doesn’t have the experience of the veterans.

    SKH and HJM are both cinema actors, I think HJM only acted in one drama and Song Kang Ho was never in one (I hope this changes).

    As for the box office, I don’t think this is related to the actors’ popularity in this case since both films star an actor equally talented and well liked. It is just that this time SKH film did better and next time HJM would do better. I have watched a lot of films from both actors (some good some not so good but never have seen either give a bad performance – I like Song Kang Ho better because I like the way he looks better)

    • i really wish SJK take a more challenging in a lead roles. his screen time is so limit in BI and his role doesn’t require him to take a spotlight. he knows what his roles is supposed to. his acting BI is quite impressive given the material. I just don’t get the critism he is given. imo it will be wrong if he tries to take the spotlight because he is supposed to be a volunteer and a visioner who mastermind behind the scene.

  13. Wow, congratulations to all the casts of A Taxi Driver, they already have 9,229,017 total admissions as of today. It’s almost 10 million just for 15 days.

  14. I went today to watch Taxi driver and was shocked bcs it was almost sold out despite his release in 2d of August. It had 4 places left O_O. And it was so so so good! I cried half of it but it was purifying tears. SKH as usual was brilliant. The movie hai it all: humour, sacrifices, heartwretching stories, sad and even action! I strongly recommend it.

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