By Kim Boram
SEOUL, Sept. 2 (Yonhap) -- As Chuseok, the major Korean harvest festival, is one of the most popular periods for filmgoers, local movie theaters are gearing up to lure movie buffs and holiday shoppers with new releases.
Three homegrown movies are set to simultaneously open on Sept. 11, the eve of the four-day Chuseok holiday. This year's Chuseok falls on Sept. 13.
"Cheer Up, Mr. Lee," directed by Lee Gye-byeok, is a comedy film about a ditzy man named Cheol-soo (Cha Seung-won) who suddenly has to deal with fatherhood after discovering that he has a precocious daughter. It is a comic adventure of this unbecoming father-daughter couple, but the story turns upside down as Cheol-soo's hidden history is revealed.
Director Kwon Oh-kwang's "Tazza: One Eyed Jack" is the third film in the popular "Tazza" series about swindling gamblers based on the comic book with the same title.
The son of a legendary tazza, or card shark in English, Il-chul (Park Jung-min), who is between jobs, falls in love with a beautiful woman named Madonna (Choi Yu-hwa) and loses a small fortune at a poker game. But he goes into heavy debt and joins hands with a mysterious one-eyed Jack (Ryoo Seung-bum) to get involved in a high-stake poker game for his life.
The third movie targeting Koreans celebrating the holiday is "The Bad Guys: Reign of Chaos," directed by Son Young-ho and starring Ma Dong-seok and Kim A-joong.
Based on OCN's popular TV drama series "The Bad Guys" aired in 2014, the film sticks to a mundane storyline -- bad guys collaborate to catch other bad guys. High-profile prisoners escape as a prisoner transport vehicle overturns, and the police form a special team consisting of other criminals to catch the prisoners at large.
Insiders hope that the three new releases will draw people to the theaters with family and friends this month and help the industry rebound from the relatively bleak box office last month.
The South Korean film industry recently experienced low ticket sales for the summer peak season, with no films selling more than 10 million tickets in the July-August period for the first time in six years. The action comedy "Exit," which premiered on July 31, had just attracted nearly 9 million people as of Sunday, while the runner-up "The Battle: Roar to Victory," a historical action movie, hovered around 5 million admissions.
"We are half concerned and half excited with the new flicks coming next week," said Hwang Jae-hyeon from CJ CGV, the largest multiplex theater chain in Korea. "If these films are interesting and intriguing, people may watch two movies or more over the short period and boost the box office again."