Recently-established Korean distribution company Showbox (see Screendaily, January 30) has announced a strategic tie-up with KM Culture, IM Pictures and Korea's largest studio Cinema Service.

Under the agreement, KM Culture will take the lead in the network's production operations, with financing divided between the four companies and distribution handled by Showbox.

The new agreement will give added clout to the third Korean distribution company to be formed in just the past two months. Of the nation's six local distribution networks, three are now owned in full or in part by Cinema Service.

"Our four companies realise that this coming year will be extremely important for the development of Korean film," said Park Moo-seung, CEO of KM Culture. "We came to this agreement recognising the need to shore up our strength to defend Korean cinema's share of the market."

Showbox has the advantage of owning its own cinema chain in Megabox Cineplex, the nation's second-largest circuit. In addition, the company will inherit a line-up of up to ten upcoming local features from production companies Koo & Film, LJ Film, Cine2000 and KM Culture's newly established production arm.

Previously, investment/production company IM Pictures had considered entering the field of distribution, but it agreed to abandon its ambitions upon joining the new network. "[Showbox's parent company] Orion Group has the advantage of a secure theatre network and ample capital, so we decided to yield to them," said IM Pictures CEO Choi Wan