It’s been a few weeks since Tom Hooper’s “Les Miserables” was released in local theaters. The star-studded musical film, whose cast includes Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway, has been doing well at the box office, attracting over 4 million viewers as of Thursday.
And it’s not just the film’s importers that are making money. Thanks to the movie’s popularity, publishing houses are also seeing sales rise of the French novel published in 1862 ― a book considered one of the greatest pieces of literature of the 19th century.
|A scene from Tom Hooper’s musical film “Les Miserables.” (UPI Korea)|
About a month ahead of the film’s release, local publishing house Minumsa published a newly edited version of the original novel as a five-volume series. In just two months after the novel’s release, more than 1 million copies have been sold, according to the publishing house.
Penguin Korea’s edition of the same novel also sold 60,000 copies since its release about a month ago.
The novel, written by French writer Victor Hugo, tells the story of Jean Valjean ― a hapless French peasant who serves 19 years in prison for stealing a piece of bread for his starving family in turbulent 19th century France.
After being released, the protagonist manages to assume a new identity and is made mayor of a town. While trying to avoid being recaptured by Javert, a police inspector, he agrees to take care of Cosette, the illegitimate daughter of Fantine ― a sick, abused prostitute who had to sell her hair and teeth to make a living.
|Penguin Classics Korea’s cover of Victor Hugo’s “Les Miserables” (Penguin Korea)|
Minumsa credits its translation for the newly released novel’s success. The French classic was translated into Korean by scholar Jeong Gi-su, who introduced the book for the first time back in 1962. The scholar re-translated the book throughout the past 50 years, revising the first version of the translated text at the same time.
“Both the musical and the movie are great,” Jeong said through the publishing house. “But one has to read the original novel to really understand the essence of ‘Les Miserables.’”
Meanwhile, major online bookstore Yes24 said they are also seeing the sales rise of the concert DVDs of the novel’s musical adaptation, as well as the movie’s soundtrack ― on top of the rising sales of the books.
“It seems like those who watched the film are purchasing the DVDs and CDs,” said Lee Hee-seung of Yes24. “We are expecting that more people will purchase music products after watching the musical-movie.”
“Les Miserables” is also present in the sports scene. Figure skater Kim Yu-na, who won the national title on Sunday, performed her free skate to a compilation of songs from the musical. Produced by the famous Cameron Mackintosh, the musical will be staged as a Korean-language version for the first time in Seoul in April.
More films, based on world classics, are to be released in local theaters this year, including F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “Great Gatsby” and Tolstoy’s “Anna Karenina.”
By Claire Lee (email@example.com)