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Waving the Taegeukgi in Hollywood

Posted April. 29, 2005 23:38,   


The Korean film industry is soon to be a “world factory.”

A “global studio” system, in which Korean film companies build studios, produce films in Hollywood with their funds, and screen the movie throughout the U.S. and the world using Hollywood’s huge distribution network, is about to materialize. The actors and directors will be local stars and English will be used in the movies.

It has been identified that CJ Entertainment, the top investment and distribution company in the Korean film industry, has hired a Hollywood screenwriter and is secretly working on the scenario of a movie tentatively titled “Captive of Normandy.” This movie, which is inspired by the true story of a Korean who was forced to fight for the Japanese army during World War II and a white American soldier who helped him, is expected to be the first “global studio” product, produced in English by a Korean company and distributed through a Hollywood corporation.

Regarding “Captive of Normandy,” an official at CJ Entertainment commented on April 29 that “production will start as early as late next year, with a Hollywood star cast and an Asian director who is a fluent English-speaker,” and added, “The net production cost will be ‘mid-level’ in Hollywood standards, around $30 to $40 million (30 to 40 billion won).”

By the end of the year, when the completed scenario emerges, CJ Entertainment will write a contract with one of the leading Hollywood distributors including Dreamworks, in which CJ Entertainment holds some of its shares, and finalize the worldwide distribution logistics of the film.

Once the global studio system sets its roots, Korean film production companies will be able to take a giant step forward in building studios overseas and producing cultural products that capture local sentiments and culture, just as Korean corporations build car and mobile phone factories overseas.

The Korean film industry exported 194 movies to the U.S. and other nations worldwide in 2004, bringing in $58 million (about 58 billion won).

Seung-Jae Lee Dong-Yong Min sjda@donga.com mindy@donga.com