Think people wouldn't want to see a zombie movie during a pandemic? Then explain the success of undead tale Train to Busan Presents: Peninsula, which has earned an impressive $27 million in South Korea in the month since it was released there and has now arrived in U.S. cinemas.
"The theme for Peninsula was around the question of how we can create hope in a world that is isolated and full of despair, and I believe this question is a very important one today," says the film's director and co-writer Yeon Sang-ho. "I thought this subject would resonate with many people today."
Sang-ho also directed the movie's predecessor, 2016's acclaimed Train to Busan, about a train whose passengers become infected with the zombie virus. In Peninsula, Jung Seok plays a survivor of the carnage in South Korea, who reluctantly travels back to the country to rescue a fortune in cash. The result is both a horror film and a heist movie that also nods in the direction of the Fast and Furious franchise.
"After Train to Busan, I pondered the question, 'How can I create an entirely different movie while maintaining the original world?'" says Sang-ho. "The answer to that question was, 'Let’s combine zombies with a fast-paced heist genre!' And so, we approached Peninsula as an action movie and incorporated massive car-chase scenes. The biggest issue was trying to address how we were going to portray a devastated Korea set four years after the zombie virus outbreak. The budget wasn’t small, but it wasn’t big enough to fully achieve the vision of the large ruined city. Thus, the most important part was to figure out a way to efficiently design the devastated city and then determine how best to film it. I spent more time in the pre-production phase for Peninsula than in other films in order to work through that."
The filmmaker reveals that there could be plenty more films set in the Train to Busan universe.
"Through Peninsula, I think the world of Train to Busan has been extended, and I think there are many other survivors who live on the peninsula," he says. "I would like to work on telling the stories of those people. I may not be directing the movie myself, but I would like to start working on a new movie within this framework."
Train to Busan Presents Peninsula opens in cinemas Friday. If you go see the film then please, please, please observe all relevant safety protocols.