SEOUL, June 15 (Korea Bizwire) – Director Joon-ho Bong’s newest movie, “Okja”, has been unveiled in Korea, but there are disputes regarding the movie’s screening at some of the country’s largest theater chains. Three major multiplexes – CGV, Lotte Cinema and Megabox – made it clear that they will not screen “Okja” as part of a simultaneous release on the Netflix streaming service.
Meanwhile, seven private movie theaters, including Seoul Daehan Theater, having started accepting ticket reservations for “Okja”. Industry watchers say this type of conflict could reoccur again in the future for another movie produced under similar terms to “Okja”, even if the current dispute is resolved by releasing the movie exclusively at private theaters nationwide and forgoing multiplexes.
“Although ‘Okja’ was produced by Korean director Bong, it is an American movie aimed at Netflix’s independent distribution channels. It is unacceptable that they have a simultaneous online and theatrical release, while also trying to push theaters to screen the movie and control the distribution process,” the official added.
Netflix is a giant conglomerate with about 80,000 Korea subscribers and a global subscriber base of over 100 million from about 190 countries. Movie theaters are concerned that Netflix could expand and make inroads on the Korean movie market.
“Considering the power of Netflix, Korean multiplexes are weak,” an official from CGV said. “Netflix is expanding its business into broadcast contents as well as movies, thus we should be prepared regarding the general impact on our movies, online videos and broadcasting in the future,” he added.
The stance of Korean multiplexes is similar to that of theaters in France or the U.S. The FNCF already opposed the invitation of Netflix movies to the competition section of the Cannes International Film Festival. The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), too, opposed the joint release of “Okja” for the same reason, and the movie will only be released at a few theaters in the U.S.
However, some have argued that it is an anachronistic idea to only stick by first releases in theaters as a standard rule when the platforms for movies are expanding with online, mobile and IPTV offerings in the new digital age.
By Lina Jang (firstname.lastname@example.org)