Japanese title Shall We Dance' is poised to repeat its overseas box office success in Korea where it has outperformed Erin Brockovich, racking up 100,000 admissions in its first week.
The 1995 comedy, directed by Masayuki Suo, opened in Korea on 69 screens on May 13. The film looks set to break the previous record for a Japanese film in Korea - set by Shunji Iwai's Love Letter, which scored 130,000 admissions following its Korean release in the autumn of 1999.
Shall We Dance' also set a record for a Japanese title in the US where it was released by Miramax Films in 1997. On its opening weekend the film grossed $88,106 from five screens, and went on to earn an impressive $9.5m.
Prior to the decision by the Korean government to lift its 35-year-old ban on Japanese cultural products, Japanese films could not be legally screened in the country except at film festivals. Since the lifting of the ban, Korean distributors have been able to freely import Japanese titles that either have a g-rating or have won a prize at any of 70 designated international film festivals.
Early film imports, including Takeshi Kitano's Hana-Bi and Akira Kurosawa's Kagemusha, struggled at the Korean box office, but several recent releases, including the hit horror-fest The Ring, have performed strongly, opening up a major new market for the Japanese film industry.