By Lee Hyo-won
Korean made movie "200 Pounds Beauty
" is taking audiences by storm abroad _ smashing box office records across Singapore and Hong Kong and signaling actress Kim Ah-joong
's rise as a hot new hallyu star.
Three weeks after its opening last month in Singapore, "Beauty" had already grossed a whopping $550,000 in that country alone according to a release by local distributors InnoForm Media and Shaw Organization.
The film opened on April 19 and now exceeds figures of previous Korean record-holder "The Wishing Stairs
" (2003) and last year's hit "The Host"
, which drew $550,000. The film's producer KM Pictures refused to release exact numbers.
"We bought the film at the AFM (American Film Market) last year and were surprised when our distribution partner Shaw suggested that we take it as wide as 18 prints", InnoForm general manager Lim Teck was quoted as telling "Variety".
"We enjoyed a clear run without much competition in the two weeks before `Spider-Man 3', and it has proved a really smart piece of counterprogramming", said Lim.
"Like all Korean films, it has very good production values, but this is a romantic comedy that has good songs and a theme of beauty and dieting that works well with female audiences", he said.
The romantic comedy features Kim Ah-joong
as a gifted yet obese singer who, after going under the knife, transforms into a slim beauty. Only then can she pursue her musical career and the love of her life.
The allure of "Beauty" does not stop in Singapore. After opening on May 17 across 21 screens in Hong Kong, the sassy film came in second at the box office __ tailing just behind "Spider-Man 3".
"Beauty" scored $190,000 in under four days. With the recent release of "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End", the film maintains a strong ranking in third place.
"Kim Kim Ah-joong
is the reason to watch this film", wrote a movie critic in "BC Magazine", a Hong Kong and Singapore-based magazine. "Not only does she look great, but does all of the singing on her own and displays a nice instinct for comedy".
The local Chinese media have also noted Kim as eclipsing the fame of Jun Ji-hyun
, the heroine of "My Sassy Girl
" (2001). The romantic comedy enjoyed enormous popularity in Hong Kong when released several years ago.
"Beauty" was a huge hit in Korea when released last December. Attracting 6.62 million viewers, the movie ranks eighth in the all-time Korean box office and first in the admissions record of comedy films.
The upcoming 2007 Daejong (Grand Bell) Film Festival officially announced "Beauty" as the most nominated film. It is set to compete in 12 of the festival's 19 categories, including Best Film, Best Director and Best Actress.
This exceeds the 11 nominations for "The Host"
at last year's festival.
Meanwhile, Kim is in Vietnam to promote Korean film and will participate in the 2007 Dynamic Korea Film Festival, to take place May 31-June 3 in Hanoi. "Beauty" will be screened along with five other works including Park Chan-wook
's award-winning "Old Boy