Leading South Korean exhibitor CJ CGV has reported first half statistics that bring local film market share to 37.6% - the lowest since 28.4% in 2000 and down 9.7% from last year.

Nationwide admissions dropped to 70.4 million, down 2.1% year-on-year and the lowest in the last three years.

The top hit of the first half of 2008 was Showbox release The Chaser with 5.13 million admissions. The local thriller which screened in Cannes also picked up six awards at the recent Grand Bell Awards two weeks ago, including Best Film, Best Director and Best Actor.

US superhero hit Iron Man followed with 4.1 million admissions, released by CJ Entertainment. Local women's handball film Forever The Moment clocked up 4 million admissions for newbie distributor Sidus FNH.

Only seven local films got more than 1 million admissions, compared to 13 last year, 15 the year before, and 17 in 2005.

The local industry is hoping to strike back this summer with the year's most highly anticipated film The Good, The Bad, The Weird set for release July 17 by CJ Entertainment. Director Kim Jee-woon is currently wrapping re-editing and mixing on the version shown out of competition in Cannes, with additional comedic elements for the local audience.

Upcoming on July 24, Showbox has the big-budget war epic Sunny, directed by record-breaking hit King And The Clown's Lee Jun-ik. The story follows a young country wife who joins a touring band as a singer to go find her husband in Vietnam.

Lotte Entertainment has Friend and Typhoon director K.T. Kwak's crime thriller An Eye For An Eye opening July 31, and CJ also has historical drama The Divine Weapon set for August 14, ahead of the long holiday weekend which starts with Independence Day on August 15.

Korea Top 10 List (Jan 1 - June 30)

Title / Country / Distributor / Admissions / Release date

1. The Chaser (Korea) Showbox Mediaplex / 5,131,129 / Feb 14

2. Iron Man (US) CJ Entertainment / 4,178,095 / April 30

3. Forever The Moment (Korea) Sidus FNH / 4,082,419 / Jan 10

4. Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull (US) CJ Entertainment / 4,008,131 / May 22

5. Kungfu Panda (US) CJ Entertainment / 3,923,975 / June 5

6. Public Enemy Returns (Korea) CJ Entertainment / 2,890,733 / June 19

7. Taken (France) Studio 2.0 / 2,392,277 / April 9

8. Jumper (US) 20th Century Fox / 1,763,510 / Feb 14

9. Open City (Korea) CJ Entertainment / 1,637,520 / Jan 10

10. Once Upon A Time In Corea (Korea) SK Telecom / 1,607,776 / Jan 31