Boy band BTS has another few accolades to add to its litany of milestones this year. After having an album debut at Number One and being the first Korean group to play a U.S. stadium, the K-Pop group released a film this weekend that is already America’s highest-grossing event-cinema music production.
Burn the Stage: The Movie, a behind-the-scenes film of the band’s 19-city Wings Tour in 2017, has netted 1.4 million admissions since opening on Thursday, according to its distributor Trafalgar Releasing. That number eclipses the 1.2 million admissions garnered by One Direction’s 2014 film One Direction: Where We Are, and makes BTS’ movie the best-selling film in the global event cinema genre (which comprises live and recorded entertainment on a theater screen, including sports games, ballets and operas) of all time.
The concert documentary also debuted at Number 10 in the U.S. box office, ahead of major American films such as Green Book and At Eternity’s Gate that opened the same weekend. It has also raked in $3.6 million thus far, the most any event-cinema film has made in the country, and claimed the sixth spot in the U.K.’s weekend chart, generating $830,000.
For that record to go to a documentary about a South Korean music group whose biggest hits barely have a few words in English — and within the seven-member BTS itself, only frontman RM likes to conduct interviews in English — is unusual, but not aberrational. In the last year, K-Pop has seen unprecedented interest from U.S. audiences, which American music industry executives and fans say is due to the genre’s meticulous performance style and wholesome, optimistic energy. BTS, specifically, has attracted scores of American listeners with its pop boy-band motif — largely absent from Western music since One Direction’s split in 2015 — and enthusiastic social media presence.
More broadly, BTS’s continued milestones also mark the increasing globalization of American music tastes: Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee’s Spanish-language “Despacito” was a record-breaker in 2017, BTS’s Korean-language “Fake Love” is on track to be one of this year’s biggest hits and fellow K-Pop group Blackpink just signed with Interscope and Universal to target the U.S. pop market, just to name a few blips in the usually English-centric music business.