When 20th Century Fox Korea announced last week that Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes would open locally on July 10, one week earlier than previously planned, the South Korean film industry cried foul.

The date change has since drawn fire from local film-makers and press alike and caused at least three films to change their distribution dates.

On the same day as Fox’s announcement on July 4, film importer Main Title Pictures and the Korean Film Producers Association (KFPA) quickly sent out statements condemning the sudden change in release dates and urging Fox to go back to its original date.

KFPA cited the long-standing practice of distributors sharing line-up release dates with one another “several months or one year in advance” so that they could prepare and follow through on costly post-production and marketing plans.

“The sudden release [date] change of a Hollywood blockbuster film based on immense capital strength goes against the trade ethics of the film world, is greatly confusing the basic order of the film market and in addition, the damage it will do is serious,” said the producers’ organisation.

Part of the implication is that a big-scale film like Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes could easily suck up screens and leave unprepared small and medium films out in the cold.

In his statement Main Title Pictures chief Edward Chang-eon Lee said his company had “put in every effort while going to tremendous expense” to open Sabotage, David Ayer’s action crime thriller starring Arnold Schwarzenegger with Sam Worthington and Terrence Howard, on July 10.

“Not only I, but numerous film companies that confirmed July 10 for release are going from shock to rage after accessing the news,” he said.

Fox Korea representatives said they had always wanted to open Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes on July 10, to match up with the US release on July 11, but had not been confident about getting the film through the media ratings board on time.

On Tuesday (July 8), Main Title Pictures sent out a press mailing saying the release date for Sabotage had been “unavoidably changed to July 24 due to distribution circumstances.”

Distributed by 9ers Entertainment, Ayer’s film will now be going up against Yoon Jong-bin’s much-anticipated Korean historical action film Kundo: Age Of the Rampant, starring Ha Jung-woo and Kang Dong-won.

In addition, Japanese horror film Ju-on: The Beginning Of The End has been compelled to move from July 10 to July 16. It is highly anticipated but niche in Korea.

Even major distributor CJ Entertainment is pulling up the release date for Confession, directed by Lee Do-yoon (licensed internationally by United Pictures), from July 10 to July 9. The crime drama features a highly popular cast of Ji Sung, Ju Ji-hoon and Lee Kwang-soo.