South Korean major Cinema Service is to boost its investment in local film production amidst what appears to be an exodus of venture capital from the industry.
With industry sources predicting leaner times ahead for production companies, the increased spending by Cinema Service is expected to give it even more clout in the local industry.
Although exact levels of funding are not yet available, in 2003 the company will finance 16 films in full or in part, compared to ten for this year. The majority of the titles will be produced through 'partner' production companies who have cooperated closely with the studio in the past, such as Taewon Entertainment, C&Film, and Fun & Happiness. Hanmac Films, headed by producer Jonathan Kim, has also taken a newly prominent position within the studio with three films scheduled for 2003, including the Columbia Tristar-financed Silmi Island.
The announcement comes as the industry starts to retrench, following an investment boom in 2001 that saw many outside investors enter the industry in hopes of landing a local smash hit like Friend ($44m) or JSA ($30m). Although local films have generally continued to perform well in 2002, three high-profile box-office failures (Screendaily.com October 1) have prompted many venture capitalists to suspend investment in film.
From the end of the summer, major distributors with investment clout such as Cinema Service, CJ Entertainment and Korea Pictures have reportedly seen a steep increase in requests from local production companies, which formerly needed little help in securing financing.
A partial list of Cinema Service's lineup for 2003 follows, most of which will also be sold internationally by the company's international sales division.
Cinema Service distribution lineup, Jan-Sept. 2003
Gukhwakkot-hyanggi (Taewon Entertainment). Dir: Lee Jung-wook. Main cast: Jang Jin-young, Park Hae-il.
Classic (Egg Films). Dir: Kwak Jae-yong. Main cast: Son Ye-jin, Cho Seung-woo, Jo In-sung.
Sonsaeng Kim Bong-gu (Fun & Happiness). Dir: Jang Kyu-sung. Main cast: Cha Seung-won.
Daehan-minguk Heonbeob Jeiljo (Hanmac Films). Dir: Son Kyung-sik. Main cast: Yeh Ji-won.
Oh, Happy Day! (Hwang Ki-sung Productions). Dir: Yoon Hang-yeol. Main cast: Jang Na-ra.
Wild Card (C&Film). Dir: Kim Yoo-jin. Main cast: Yang Dong-geun, Jung Jin-young, Han Chae-young.
Geunyeo-ui Achim (C&Film). Dir: Yoon Jong-chan.
Buleora Bombaram (Art Service). Dir: Jang Hang-jun.
Marachi Arachi (Fun & Happiness). Dir: Ryoo Seung-wan. Main cast: Ryoo Seung-beom.
Geoulsoguro (Key Plus). Dir: Kim Sung-ho. Main cast: Yoo Ji-tae.
Legend Of The Thousand-Year Lake (Hanmac Films). Dir: Lee Kwang-hoon. Main cast: Kim Min-jung.
Nabi (Taewon Entertainment). Dir: Kim Hyun-sung.
Silmi Island (Hanmac Films). Dir: Kang Woo-suk.
Muyeonggeom (Taewon Entertainment). Dir: Kim Young-jun.