The pressure is on for the stars of the big-budget Korean movie "The Battleship Island" as they need to draw in 7 million just to break even.
"Battleship Island," set for release on July 26 in South Korea, stars So Ji-sub, Song Joong-ki and Hwang Jung-min and a total of 25 billion won (US$22.42 million) were spent to produce it.
The movie tells the story of Koreans who were forced to work in Japan's Hashima Island during the Japanese occupation of South Korea.
Actor So Ji-sub wishes that the movie will sell 10 million tickets.
"I hope the combined audience surpasses 10 million. It has to break even in order to produce similar movies in the future. I hope those who have worked hard on the movie can be compensated," he told Yonhap News.
He plays the role of Choi Chil-sung, "leader of the Jongro street gang and the greatest first fighter in Korea," according to the movie website.
So Ji-sub said he accepted the role without knowing what the movie was all about because he wanted to work with director Ryoo Seung-wan.
"I accepted the offer without even reading the screenplay because I wanted to work in a movie with director Ryoo Seung-wan," he said.
He described the filming of "Battleship Island" as "physically difficult, but more grueling was the pressures from the fact that the real-life Battleship Island was its subject matter."
"After news came out of the film's production, the pressure intensified after Battleship Island itself became a big issue," he said.
In 2009, Japan requested that Hashima Island is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which drew protest from South Korea.
A compromise was reached in 2015 wherein Japan acknowledge that there were Koreans who were forced to work on the island.
So Ji-sub said he even asked himself "Can I serve this movie, can I deliver my character well?"
Compared to his past roles, So Ji-sub said Chil-sung is different.
"Compared to my past characters who tended to have a cold heart and were mostly quiet, Chil-sung has fiery emotions," he explained. "It was cathartic to deliver a burning performance, but it seems as if there's not much left inside of me. It's as if I've coughed out everything that was inside."