A scene from "Mori, the Artist's Habitat" (JinJin Pictures)
Korean theaters are seeing the lowest number of cinemagoers in 14 years, and film companies, finding it difficult to postpone new releases any further, are seeking alternative ways to keep the industry going.
Moviegoers nationwide were less than 60,000 from Monday to Wednesday, marking the lowest figure seen in the last 14 years, according to data compiled by the Korea Film Committee.
With the virus pandemic set to continue for days to come, film producers and distributors are putting their heads together to seek for means to reduce further damages.
A society of 13 arthouse film importers and distributors said they have decided to jointly release films from late March.
“We sent a suggestion to release around a dozen films from our members to the three major multiplexes late last week and are currently going through negotiations with the firms,” Yu Hyun-taek, CEO of GreenNarae Media, told The Korea Herald on Thursday.
According to Yu, the 13 companies will jointly bear the costs of distribution and promotion of the films. The profit from each of the films is to be returned to the original importer.
The companies mustered up the courage to release the films regardless of the continuing slump at the box office in order to find a way for the whole industry to endure the depressive period together, Yu said.
“We’re not really thinking about the risks or the revenues coming from the new releases. Even if only a thousand people watch the films, they have to be released. If we continue to delay the films and do nothing, the whole industry would fail.”
Short of new films to release, the theaters also seemed to embrace the joint releasing of new titles.
An official from Lotte Cinema said the company is “very positive about the suggestion.”
“Almost 50 films which were expected to open between February and March have been postponed as of now and the news of new releases would be definitely welcomed,” the official said.
An official from rival multiplex CGV stated that although exact release dates need to be further negotiated, the firm is reviewing the matter “very positively.”
In search for means to keep screens running, the multiplexes have been increasingly re-releasing past popular films. Under the theme of “healing movies,” Lotte Cinema is rescreening a list of movies, including “Little Forest,” “Silver Linings Playbook” and “Green Book.” Megabox has launched its “Masterpiece Replay” event, screening more recent hits, including “The Irishman,” “The Two Popes” and “Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood.”
According to Yu, starting with Japanese film “Mori, the Artist’s Habitat” and French art film “Orphan” on March 26, the society plans to release two to three new movies a week.
By Choi Ji-won (firstname.lastname@example.org)