SEOUL, South Korea - Steven Spielberg's "Transformers" premiered Thursday in theaters in South Korea, after notching up the country's highest online ticket bookings of any movie this year.
The action film - featuring vehicles that transform into warring robots - will initially be shown on some 530 screens nationwide, rising to around 700 by the weekend, distributor CJ Entertainment said.
Directed by Michael Bay and produced by Spielberg, "Transformers" will be released in U.S. theaters Tuesday. Josh Duhamel, Jon Voight and Shia LaBeouf star in the film.
"The graphics were just awesome, truly the best science-fiction movie I've ever seen," said Oh Kyung-chul, a 21-year-old student, after watching a morning show in Seoul. "I hope they come out with sequels. I will definitely go to watch them."
Based on the 1980s toys and cartoon series of the same name, "Transformers" centers on two robot clans: Decepticons, which strive to dominate the universe, and Autobots, which believe in peaceful co-existence with humans.
In the movie, a high-school boy teams up with the Autobots to save the world from the Decepticons.
Before its Thursday debut, advance online bookings for the DreamWorks and Paramount production outweighed all bookings for other movies in South Korea, with the reservation rate hovering at over 80 percent of all online movie ticket reservations, said CJ Entertainment Publicity Manager Jessica Kim.
She said no other film has had such strong pre-screening bookings in South Korea this year. Figures for the total number of reserved tickets weren't immediately available.
"Movies that do well in South Korea tend to do well in other parts of Asia," Kim said, attributing the trend in part to the growing popularity of South Korean movies, TV dramas and music across the region.
"A movie's popularity in Asia seems to be affected by its popularity in South Korea," she said. "In that sense, South Korea has emerged as an important movie market in Asia in recent years."
"Transformers" will be released elsewhere in Asia later this week, Kim said.