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(News Focus) Films with singer-actors ready to hit summer box office

All News 11:40 June 10, 2016

By Shim Sun-ah, Koo Jung-mo

SEOUL, June 10 (Yonhap) -- This summer K-pop fans will have more chances to see their favorite stars, not just on television but also on the silver screen.

There is nothing new about pop singer appearances in movies. But there are more movies featuring singer-actors this summer than ever before, according to film industry sources.

"The Horror Stories 3," released on June 1, has Lim Seul-ong of the boy band 2AM. Lee plays a noble Joseon era (1392-1910) scholar named Lee Saeng, the main character in one of the film's three episodes. The latest installment in the country's only existing horror film series marks his return to the big screen after he made an appearance on "26 Years" in 2012.

Kim Dong-wan of the boy group Shinhwa is one of the main leads in "If You Were Me," also an omnibus drama film. In the National Human Rights Commission-sponsored film that opened Thursday, Kim plays a megalomaniac who believes he is under surveillance by a big brother whose identity is unknown.

Since beginning his acting career with the TV drama "Children of Heaven" (2002), Kim has taken major roles in such films as "Spin Kick" (2004), "Deranged" (2012) and "Life is but an Empty Dream" (2015). In "One Way Trip" (2015), he appeared as the elder brother of one of the four main characters.

The forthcoming film "Seondal: The Man Who Sells the River" is the debut film for Xiumin, a member of one of the hottest K-pop boy bands EXO.

Xiumin plays Gyeon-i, a naive boy who works as an assistant to Seondal, a legendary con artist from an ancient Korean story who makes a lot of money by selling water from the Daedong River that flows through the heart of Pyongyang in North Korea.

In "Train to Busan," one of the most anticipated films of the summer, An So-hee, who became an actress after leaving the girl group Wonder Girls, takes an assisting role as a high school cheerleader.

Premiered in the Midnight Screening section of this year's Cannes Film Festival, the film was highly praised by critics for being "the best-ever Midnight Screening" title.

Also known as "Bu-san-haeng," the action thriller depicts people striving to survive against the spread of a strange virus on a KTX bullet train bound for the southern port city of Busan.

But the presence of idols does not always lead to a box-office success.

"A Melody to Remember," which was one of the most highly anticipated films of the first half of the year, managed to amass only 1 million viewers even though Im Si-wan, a member of the boy band ZE:A, took the lead role for the first time in his acting career.

He previously proved his ticket power by appearing in "The Attorney," a 2013 film loosely based on the life story of late attorney-turned-President Roh Moo-hyun, and the TV drama series "Misaeng (Incomplete Life)" in 2014.

The films “Unforgettable” and “One Way Trip” each had a different member from the boy band EXO as stars, but both performed poorly, collecting only 240,000 and 190,000 viewers, respectively. “Unforgettable” starred Doh Kyung-soo and “One Way Trip” starred Kim Jun-myun. The coming-of-age film was Kim’s debut, who is more widely known as Suho.

But the box office figures for "My New Sassy Girl" starring Victoria of the girl group f(x) were far worse. It closed last month without surpassing even the 100,000 mark in attendance, failing to live up to the fame gained by the original romantic comedy "My Sassy Girl" with Jun Ji-hyun. The 2001 film was watched by nearly 5 million people in South Korea, an impressive record then.

Film industry sources say that singers' active participation in films is seen as a win-win for both filmmakers and singers.

"For filmmakers, hiring big-name stars is helpful in winning a commercial success. And for singers, this helps broaden the realm of their activities," an official with a large film distributor said.

But their name value does not always lead to the box office success of the films they join, he said.

"The appearance of singers certainly takes a role in increasing the public awareness of the films involving them. But when the films actually open, audiences see them as just part of the cast."

sshim@yna.co.kr
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