Docu film on elderly couple’s love sets viewing record

December 26, 2014
A scene from "My Love, Don't Cross That River," a Korean documentary film that broke the 3 million audience mark on Dec. 25, 2014. (NEWSis)

A scene from “My Love, Don’t Cross That River,” a Korean documentary film that broke the 3 million audience mark on Dec. 25, 2014. (NEWSis)

SEOUL (Yonhap) — A homegrown documentary film about an elderly couple has surpassed the 3 million mark in attendance, setting a new record for a local documentary, an official box-office tracker said.

“My Love, Don’t Cross That River” had attracted 3,039,536 moviegoers as of Thursday, breaking the previous record of 2.92 million viewers held by “Old Partner” (2009), according to the Korean Film Council (KOFIC).

Released on Nov. 27, the film by director Ji Mo-young became the first local indie film to draw 100,000 viewers in seven days after release. The film then exceeded the 200,000 and 300,000 marks, respectively, on the 11th and 13th days of opening.

For indie films, an attendance of 100,000 is considered comparable to 10 million for commercial films and a huge box-office success.

Critics say the film has appealed to all generations with its true story of love between a 98-year-old man and 89-year-old woman who have lived as a couple for 76 years.

“It attracted moviegoers of all ages as more and more people came to take it as a family movie, not just for the elderly,” Jeong Ji-wook, a movie critic, told Yonhap News Agency. “It gave hope for a proper and happy old-age life.”

The film’s relatively stable distribution network compared with other indie films also helped. It is being co-distributed by the nation’s largest cinema chain CGV and its affiliate for art-house films, CGV Art House.

Since it first opened in 186 theaters, an unusually large number for an indie film, the film at one point was being shown at 800 venues. It now is being screened in 520 theaters (as of Wednesday), competing with commercial films such as “Ode to My Father,” “The Con Artists” and “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.”

Industry experts say that, if the current trend continues, “it is a matter of time” before the film breaks the record as the most-watched indie film of all time retained by “Begin Again” (3.4 million) by the award-winning director John Carney.

Meanwhile, the Hollywood film “Interstellar” topped 10 the million viewers’ mark in South Korea at midnight Wednesday.

The sci-fi epic by Christopher Nolan became the third film to reach the milestone at the local box-office this year, following Korean historical flick “Roaring Currents” (17.61 million), the animated Disney film “Frozen” (10.29 million).

“Interstellar” also currently is the third most-viewed foreign film of all time in the country next to “Avatar,” a 2009 Hollywood blockbuster that attracted 13.61 million, and “Frozen.”