In a new twist in the on-goingsaga of Korea's screen quota system, the Seoul Theatre Associationhas announced it will maintain the current quota for local films irregardlessof the recent government decision to cut it by half.

At a meeting yesterday (March2) arranged by the government between theatre representatives, governmentofficials and politicians, Lee Chang-moo, chairman of the Seoul TheatreAssociation, announced: "Members of the Association have agreed to observe theScreen Quota independently," adding that the choice was "self-determinedobservance, without enforcement."

CJ CGV chief executive ParkDong-ho said: "In order to secure quality content like King And The Clown, we need to observe the current screen quota.The theatre industry has resolved to maintain the quota irregardless ofgovernment plans."

The current quota requiresKorean cinemas to show local films for 146 days a year. However, the quota canbe lowered down to 106 days a year depending on when the local titles arescreened. For example, if they're shown during major film-going holidays, thecinemas earn points towards fewer days. The recent government reduction wouldcut the quota to 73 days without exceptions towards fewer days.

Although not all members ofthe Seoul Theatre Association have opted to keep the quota intact, Park said:"As [the three major exhibitors] CGV, Megabox and Lotte Cinema have securednational chains, the total of theatres participating in the independentobservance will be around 60%."

Filmmakers have beenprotesting the government's decision to halve the quota by taking to the streetsand rejecting its moves to compensate the industry.

Indie filmmaker associationscollectively rejected the government's offer of a $400m development fund, whiletheatre owners announced they would modify the profit-sharing ratio withforeign film distributors from 60:40 in favour of the distributors to 50:50 forall films. Currently, the distributors of Korean films receive 50% of profits.

This was in defiance of thegovernment's offer to coordinate a hike of up to 60:40 for the distributors ofKorean films.