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Korea’s home comforts S

outh Korean films still hold 40%-50% of local market share while selling steadily abroad (see p39) but Korean producers have few options when pro-

moting their scripts locally. The three major investor/distributors which can generally greenlight a film are CJ, Showbox Mediaplex and Lotte Entertainment. With CJ’s Entertainment and Media affiliates

newly merged into CJ E&M Corp, the company has a strong financial advantage and can pick the creme de la creme in which to invest. But CJ has long been head and shoulders above the competition when it comes to market share. Last year, it took 38.8% of the total market share of local films. Lotte secured 19.6% while Showbox could manage only 14.3%. Though Lotte has a reputation for choosing

more locally focused comedies and action films, the ones in which it does invest and distribute have been local hits as well as overseas sellers. To name a few: Scandal Makers, which was picked up for a US remake, espionage comedy My Girl- friend Is An Agent and Korean War movie 71 – Into The Fire. Showbox, which no longer has an exhibitor

affiliate, continues to secure strong projects which travel to festivals and attract pre-sales as well. Its local slate last year included Kim Jee- woon’s I Saw The Devil and Na Hong-jin’s The Murderer (aka The Yellow Sea), which is screen- ing in Un Certain Regard. Other investor/distributors include the rela-

tive newcomer N.E.W. whose recent films include Hello Ghost and Haunters, Sidus FNH (The Housemaid, Wedding Dress) and Cinergy (Festival, Secret Love).

Hollywood challengers With Hollywood blockbusters set to hold their own in South Korea this year — Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Trans- formers: Dark Of The Moon, Mission: Impos- sible — Ghost Protocol and the final Harry Potter instalment are considered the ones to beat — local productions have their work cut out for them. Films due for release in the second half of this

year include two high-profile war movies. The first is the Second World War saga My Way, directed by Kang Je-gyu, whose previous hits include the watershed Shiri and Taegukgi (aka Brotherhood Of War). My Way is a good example of recent Korean films reaching out to the rest of Asia, with a top-flight cast of pan-Asian stars Jang Dong-gun from Korea, Odagiri Joe from Japan and Fan Bingbing from China. The film is based on the true story of a man

who was drafted into the Japanese army when Korea was colonised and ended up battling

Sector 7, Korea’s first 3D blockbuster is due for a summer release

through Mongolia and Russia and eventually Normandy, where he found himself a prisoner of war to the US. CJ is planning a press launch and reception in Cannes on May 15, with the director and cast in attendance. Former Kim Ki-duk protégé-turned-commer-

cial-hit-director Jang Hun (Rough Cut, Secret Reunion) is in post-production on his big-budget war drama The Front Line. Set during the Korean War, it stars Shin Ha-kyun and Kim Ok-vin from Thirst and Ko Soo from Haunters. Showbox has set the film’s local release for July. Last year was the first in recent history when

a foreign film topped the box office. Thanks to higher ticket prices for 3D screenings, Avatar far outpaced runner-up The Man From Nowhere, raking in $74.4m compared with $42.1m. How- ever, Korea’s film industry is nothing if not quick to follow a lucrative trend. CJ has in the works what it is betting will be Korea’s first 3D blockbuster film, Sector 7. The creature feature, produced by Haeundae director JK Youn, is due out this summer. Projects in pre-production include Snow

Piercer, from the Cannes Camera d’Or jury presi- dent Bong Joon-ho, a sci-fi film based on the French graphic novel Le Transperceneige. Pro- duced by Park Chan-wook, the production is looking for an international cast. The Thieves is an action crime thriller set in

Macau to be directed by Choi Dong-hoon of the hit Tazza: The High Rollers. The film has an ensemble cast which includes Kim Yun-seok (The Murderer aka The Yellow Sea), Gianna Jun (Blood

Film-makers in South Korea are readying a lively slate of films to take on the US blockbuster juggernaut this summer, including the territory’s first 3D action film, Sector 7. Jean Noh reports on the country’s production sector

Kang Je-gyu’s My Way features a top-flight cast from throughout Asia

The Last Vampire), and Kim Hye-soo (Tazza). Albeit with narrowing options for invest-

ment, the Korean film production sector seems to have regained its legs from the previous slump of 2006-08 and is looking at a strong year commercially. On the arthouse side, lower- budget films continue to thrive and auteur directors such as Kim Ki-duk and Hong Sang- soo are representing the country at Cannes with their new films, Arirang and The Day He Arrives respectively. n

s May 14, 2011 Screen International at the Cannes Film Festival 37 n

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