Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Chaebolplex v. Indie Movies - The Sequel

According to KOFIC / KOBIZ, Korea's 2,870 movie screens recorded almost 220 M admissions last year, a 49% increase in ten years. That's enough to take over (30% more populated) France, where admissions gained only 11% over the same period, from 190 to 209 M. Korean and Foreign films have basically maintained their positions on the market: around 50/50 for the number of admissions, 28/72 for the number of films released, knowing that the biggest blockbusters tend to be local (only Avatar appears in the all time top ten, as #3).

The number of movies released exploded (from 380 to 1,765), which is not a guarantee for quality, but an encouraging sign for culture diversity*. Indeed, the big 'chaebolplexes' that control the market have at long last started to propose independent movies.

Which doesn't mean that Korea's indie movie ecosystem is better off.

When six years ago, chaebolplexes were forced to feature them following the 'Pieta' scandal, I worried that they would struggle to kick their bad, closed circuit habits (see "Saving Korean cinema... and even Chaebolplex"), and that's pretty much what happened.

Just a few significant events that followed the 2012 'Pieta Law':
- 2013: ten indie movie producers pool their efforts to create Little Big Pictures
- 2014: CJ Group launches CGV Arthouse (chaebolplexes create their own 'indie' theaters)
- 2015: it gets political when AHN Cheol-soo brings the spotlight on the cause, and indies push for laws similar to the 1948 Paramount Decree (the "antitrust case that ruled against big movie studios operating their own movie theaters"**)
- 2016: Netflix launches in Korea
- 2017: produced by Netflix, BONG Joon-ho's 'Okja' is boycotted by Korea's biggest theater operators
- 2018: IPTV takes over cable TV as main provider, controlled by the Big 3 (KT, SKT, LGU+), and 'chaebolplex' snatch exclusivities for indie movies away from 'independent art houses', even for re-runs.***

How can indie theaters survive, or compete with lavish complexes that in terms of diversity, contribute essentially to one of chaebolplex's core business models: real estate. There are so much new complexes Seoul can host, and the 'art house' alibi provides a perfect 'alternative' offer to developments that target culture-friendly elites.



Institutions like Seoul Cinema or Indie Space embody the resistance, but for how long?


'Smells like Seoul Cinema spirit' (20180517 - www.instagram.com/p/Bi4AYl9ll7H/?taken-by=stephanemot)


'not sure the one in the middle will be featured in a chaebolplex' (20121213 - twitter.com/theseoulvillage/status/279079561419960320)


Seoul Village 2018
Welcome to our Korean Errlines! Follow Seoul Village on Facebook and Twitter
Bookmark and Share
Add this page to your favorites
.
* on this issue, read " Heralding cultural diversity - a stronger and more sustainable Korean wave" (2013)
** "South Korea’s Chaebol-sized Movie Problem"  (WSJ 20150130)
*** "Art house cinemas lose their exclusivity : As more indie films are screened at theater chains, smaller venues suffer losses" (KJD 20180706)

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for your comments and remarks. Also for your patience (comments are moderated and are not published right away - only way to curb the spam, sorry). S.

books, movies, music