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COVID-19 changes the way films are distributed

Posted April. 07, 2020 07:37,   

Updated April. 07, 2020 07:37


The novel coronavirus is disrupting the value chain of the movie industry. The filmmaking and distribution process, which used to include investment, production, distribution, screening, and additional markets, is undergoing rapid changes with a drop in the number of moviegoers and a surge in demand of over-the-top (OTT) services.

The film “Time to Hunt” canceled its scheduled screenings and announced its release on Netflix on Friday. Another movie “Justice High” has become the first Korean movie to be released first on IPTV and then opened again in theaters after gaining popularity.

In South Korea, as much as 80 percent of the money the movie industry makes comes from theaters. Distributors, investors, producers, and theaters share the money moviegoers pay at theaters after deducting the film development funds. The coronavirus pandemic has negatively affected the revenue stream of the companies in the movie industry.

“We lose tens of millions of won a day if we stop filming. But we can’t stop the production all together because it will deal a blow both to the staff and the producers,” said Choi Jung-hwa, head of the Producers Guild of Korea. “Theaters can calculate their losses because they have a certain amount of monthly revenue. The problem with producers, importers, and marketing firms is that their losses are not quantifiable as they have film-based revenue.”

Some say, however, that the COVID-19 pandemic may bring changes to how movies are distributed but it will not be a fundamental threat to the space called theater. Director Christopher Nolan said the time of solidarity will become more important and it will create new type of movies. Comscore’s senior media analyst Paul Dergarabedian said there will be a demand for the “communal moviegoing experience that only the big screen can provide” once the coronavirus crisis subsides.

Seo-Hyun Lee baltika7@donga.com · Jae-Hee Kim jetti@donga.com