Seniors Invade Movie Theaters for 'Mapa Island'

A middle-aged revolution has taken control of movie theaters. For the third week since its release, the comedy "Mapa Island" has reigned supreme at the box office, surpassing the 2 million-viewer mark Friday. The film is completely devoid of top stars or even young actors.

In an era when films are drawing 10 million or more, 2 million might not seem like a lot, but the star driving the film's promotion is a middle-aged "grandmother-grade" actress, and middle-aged folk also make up the bulk of the filmgoers. The film -- starring 55 year-old Kim Hyeong-ja, 65-year-old Yeo Wun-gye, 54-year-old Kim Su-mi and other actors of yesteryear as well as 39-year-old "perpetual supporting actor" Lee Mun-sik in his first leading role -- is leaving behind Academy Award-winner "Million Dollar Baby" and youth-oriented action comedy "She's on Duty."

"Mapo Island" is without precedent in drawing a 40-and-up crowd usually resigned to their living room home theaters. "In the morning, it's middle-aged women and grandmother circles watching the film in groups, and in the evening there are lines of middle-aged couples," said Joongang Cinema's Kang Gi-myeong. "This is a phenomenon rarely seen with other films."

The actors, too, are experiencing an unprecedented surge in popularity. Kim Su-mi bragged, "Each time I go to the sauna, middle-aged women greet me, and it's popular nowadays for church grandmothers to get together and see the film after Sunday service." Yeo Wun-gye joked, "Perhaps older filmgoers feel comfortable watching the film because it stars a bunch of older folk uglier than themselves." Pointing to his face, Lee Mun-sik said, "When was I going to get a leading role with a mug like this?" He added, "Up till the moment we started shooting, I was quite nervous, because I had been assigned leading roles a couple of times in the past, only to be replaced later on by a better-looking guy."

englishnews@chosun.com / 4 01, 2005 18:39 KST