Japanese buyers at EFM are breaking records for the size of the dealsbeing made on Korean films.
In an inter-Asian buying spree, Comstock paid $4m for Korea Pictures'period action drama The Duellist, pre-sold on the strength of a clipreel. Due to finish production in April, the Lee Myung-se-directed tale of afemale detective, played by Ha Ji Won, will not be delivered until earlyautumn.
But that paycheque looked meagre when compared to market rumourssurrounding Show East's imminent sale of melodrama April Snow, whichwent into production last week. Directed by Hur Jin-ho, whose previous twofilms were the hits Christmas In August and One Fine Spring Day,the price-tag on April Snow was rumoured to be close to $7m.
Michelle Son, the head of sales for Show East, a production house whichbroke away from Korea Pictures two years ago and is now setting up its ownsales strand, would not confirm the figure, saying her company "nevercommented on MGs". But she did say she had received seven firm offers fromJapan and that her client was now booking cinemas for a wide release inSeptember.
Significantly April Snow, the story of two people broughttogether when their cheating spouses are involved in a car crash, features BaeYong-Joon, the Korean actor who has eclipsed all other Japanese stars since hisrole in the Winter Sonata TV soap and his hit first feature, UntoldScandal. "Bae has his own Japanese agent and knows his value in Japan.He will handle his own merchandising and possibly a making-of," said Son.
Earlier this week Korean major CJ Entertainment pre-sold Sympathy ForLady Vengeance, the third film in Park Chan-wook's Sympathy For MisterVengeance and Old Boy "revenge trilogy" for a priceexceeding half its $6m budget. And Mirovision licensed romantic comedy MyBoyfriend Type B to Nippon Herald for a price described by Mirovision bossJason Chae as "groundbreaking".
Driving the prices higher is the massive popularity of all things Koreanin Japan, an extraordinary cultural phenomenon given that that the twocountries only normalised relations in the last decade. This has spread from TVand music to film.
Windstruck, Kwak Jae-young's follow-up to hit romantic comedy MySassy Girl, recently set a new box office record for a Korean film inJapan. Released by Warner Japan on 300 screens on December 11, the filmrecorded $17.7m (Y1.8bn) on 1.37 million admissions in its first four weeks onrelease.
Both April Snow and The Duellist may also have the addedfuel of being films that fit another current trend in Japan - for "purelove" or junai dramas.