Korean film

Stephen Cremin asianfilmlibrary
Thu Mar 9 14:45:18 EST 2000

As an indication of how much money is being talked about in export 
potential, PHANTOM THE SUBMARINE has just sold to Japan for US$400,000 and 
NOWHERE TO HIDE to France for US$200,000.  This is the upfront "minimum 
guarantee" from the local distributor with a 50/50 share of box office, 
30/70 share of video/DVD and 70/30 share of TV rights over 5-7 years.  (Or 
small variation on this formula.)  SHIRI (retitled SHURI) reputedly sold for 
around US$1.3m to Japan.  In Korea, six million people watched it in 
theatres out of a population a little over 40 million.  Psycho-thriller TELL 
ME SOMETHING is about to open in Hong Kong but I wouldn't like to estimate 
its box office success.  (SHIRI took just over US$750,000 on its theatrical 
release in Hong Kong.)

There is an enormous amount of money going into Korean film now from 
business.  Financial returns on domestic film are very high compared to 
other forms of investment at the moment.  Web sites are being launched which 
allow anyone to invest in film projects (with a very reasonable minimal 
investment) while Cinema Service and Cheil Jedang are ramping up production. 
  But with production so high, the bubble is very likely to burst this year. 
  THE FOUL KING, PEPPERMINT CANDY and LIES have done staggeringly well at 
the domestic box office in 2000, but smaller releases are having trouble 
finding space in theatres and keep getting their release dates pushed back.  
The government IS putting money into subsidies for the construction of 
multiplex cinemas and supporting other infrastructural activities: funds for 
local theatre, funds for literary translations into English, etc.  I don't 
think they're funding films directly other than through selected grants from 
KOFIC, a sum of US$250,000 per title which is guaranteed against 
international sales.

Anyway, I think there are others on the list with much greater knowledge 
than me who can contribute to this thread.

Stephen Cremin
The Asian Film Library

PS: PHANTOM THE SUBMARINE is about an attempt to nuke Japan by a renegade 
marine officer, so interesting to see how that will go down...

PPS: The release of IN THE REALM OF THE SENSE in Korea is aptly timed for 
1st April.  The film will have around 17 minutes cut with other scenes 
optically blurred.  I've read that four out of the ten sex scenes in the 
film have been completely removed.  (And the film's appearance at the 
Singapore International Film Festival in April now looks extremely 
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