Posted September. 19, 2014 03:38,
Begin Again has passed the previous third most-seen diversity film in Korea, Lust, Caution, on September 15 and on September 17, posted 2.02 million moviegoers total. The movie is chasing the top spot for most-seen diversity film. The top was documentary Old Partner, which was released in 2009 (seen by 2.93 million), and the 2004 Japanese animation by Howls Moving Castle by director Hayao Miyazaki (seen by 2.43 million).
With Begin Agains success, interest is high on the criteria for selecting movies that fit the genre. According to the Korea Film Council (KOFIC), diversity films are unlike commercial films, art films and independent films, which were shot using independent investments or with low budgets. The committee has selected such films from 2007 and provided them with support. Once designated as a diversity film, it is exempted from having to pay for the Korea Media Rating Board to rate the movie and can be shown at art-specialized theaters, thereby gaining the opportunity to show them stably.
The reason many are puzzled about Begin Agains selection as a diversity film is that it is a U.S. Hollywood film with a star-studded cast of Keira Knightly, Mark Ruffalo, and Adam Levine, vocalist of pop rock band Maroon 5. It also cost 25 million dollars to make, which is much more than the Korean blockbuster Roaring Currents, which cost 18 million dollars to make. So why has this film been chosen?
That is because diversity films need not be a low-budget movie. The criteria is as diverse as its name. Whether it is an art-house movie or an independent flick, once it meets the criteria, the film can be categorized as such and gain benefits. Begin Again was evaluated as an art movie on music and was eligible thus. In order to be a diversity film, it needs to meet the criteria for the opening theaters. Films that are shown 840 times a day or more on 200 screens or more cannot apply. Begin Again opened on 185 screens (482 times).
Films that have a less than one percent market share nationwide can also be a diversity film. Films from nations aside from Korea, U.S., France, and Japan belong in this category. Lust, Caution, is the best example. A KOFIC official said this film submitted documentation showing it was produced by Taiwanese capital, thereby meeting the criteria.
Amid works from major distributors raising controversy over oligopoly of films as was the case with Roaring Currents, was it necessary to give the Hollywood film like Begin Again the benefits of the criteria which was made to assist small-budget movies? The Grand Budapest Hotel, which invited discussions in the first half of this year, was dubbed a diversity film for convenience, but it did not apply for the designation. Korea National University of Arts School of Film, TV, and Multimedia dean Pyeon Jang-wan said the system needs overhaul to support more low-budget movies which have a hard time finding screens that would air them. The KOFIC is known to be mulling a review of that policy in reflection of this reality.