Local horror film A Tale Of Two Sisters has become the biggest Korean opener in history, recording 774,500 viewers ($4m) from 158 prints over the weekend.

The three-day take for distributor Big Blue Film narrowly tops a record for local pictures set earlier this year by comedy My Tutor Friend, which went on to gross in excess of $25m.

Despite the sensational opening, however, it failed to match the unprecedented 1.21m viewers recorded on May 24-25 by The Matrix Reloaded, which opened on a record 320 prints nationwide.

Directed by Kim Jee-woon, whose previous feature The Foul King ranked fourth in box-office takings for 2000, A Tale Of Two Sisters reworks a traditional Korean folk tale into a story about two girls who, recovering from an unnamed illness, move in with their obsessive and unbalanced stepmother.

The film's striking imagery and an effective marketing campaign are being credited with the success of the movie, which features a complex, difficult narrative that many believed would limit its popular appeal.

At last month's Cannes Film Market, sales company Cineclick Asia raised $1m in pre-sales on the basis of a 26 minute promo screening, an unusually high amount for an uncompleted Korean film.

Deals were reportedly struck for Japan (Comstock), Italy (Medusa), and Scandinavia (Future Film), in addition to earlier agreements for France (Wild Side Films) and Hong Kong (Golden Scene). Cineclick has also reportedly entered negotiations with US studios for the sale of remake rights.

A Tale Of Two Sisters is the first in a record six local horror titles lined up for the summer months, which in Korea is traditionally a strong season for the genre.