Battleship Island sets opening day record but scored for theater monopoly

The big budget movie drew 970,922 audience on its first day on July 26 .

Battleship Island
Battleship Island KOFIC / CJ Entertainment

Korean film "The Battleship Island" has set a new opening day record in South Korea.

The big budget movie drew 970,922 audience on its first day on July 26 and raking it a total of US$5.47 million at the box office, according to data from the Korean Film Council (KOFIC). Its revenue share was a whopping 71.35 percent of the day's total.

"Battleship Island" stars Song Joong-ki, So Ji-sub and Hwang Jung-min about Koreans who were forced to work in a labor camp in Japan's Hashima Island during World War II.

However, the movie was also criticized for monopolizing theaters. The film was shown on 2,027 screens, the first time for a movie in Korea to breach the 2,000 mark. It is equivalent to 11,174 screenings for a single day.

CJ E&M, one of the film's investors, used its distribution outlet CJ CGV for the film.

"Let alone monopoly, this is madness. We don't even expect a symbiosis but at least you should have the slightest feeling of conscience," said filmmaker Min Byung-hoon in an online post, according to Yonhap News.

The previous record holder was the 2016 Hollywood movie "Captain America: Civil War," which was shown in 1,991 screens.

"Battleship Island" edged out "The Mummy" for total tickets sold on opening day. The Hollywood film attracted 872,965 audience on its first day.

Before the movie opened, its stars heavily promoted "Battleship Island" through interviews and social media posts.

It took 25 billion won ($22.42 million) to produce the movie and it needs 7 million moviegoers to break even.

Song Joong-ki plays the role of a member of a Korean independence movement who goes to the island to save another member of the group.

"At first, he's a soldier whose duty is to follow orders and complete his mission, and that's it. But he's later moved by the plight of the people on the island. His motivation changes as the movie progresses. He later feels he has a duty to save the Korean people," he said, according to the Korea Herald.

The movie highlights the ongoing conflict between Korea and Japan but Song Joong-ki is not worried.

"People ask me if I was concerned about foreign fans' responses before deciding to do this movie. Of course I pay attention to fans' responses. I've reached a point in my career where one photo of me is uploaded on the internet and all of Asia sees it. But I believed that (what the film shows) was just. It's the right thing to do, which is why I think I wasn't afraid. It was a small expression of my beliefs," he said.