Film sales and distribution company Mirovision this week became the latest outfit to move into the expanding Korean exhibition market. This week it opened its first cinema, the Insa Arts Theatre.
Acquired on a long-term lease and located in the middle of the Insadong entertainment and tourist area, the theatre is a mixed-use venue with stageplays and musicals also likely to vie for its facilities. In addition to commercial screenings, Mirovision may also use it for premieres and test screenings of its own pictures. It opened with Mirovision's aquatic local comedy The Waterboys.
The theatre will be unique in programming all Korean films with English sub-titles. Ostensibly this may help Korean pictures play to students and the visiting tourist crowds, but it will also help Mirovision, which acquires many foreign films, fulfil the screen quota legislation that requires nearly half of screening slots to be given over to local product.
Although the country is severely under-screened, exhibition is unlikely to become the major thrust of Mirovision. Company CEO Jason Chae, however, hopes that the theatre, combining comfortable seating with an arty look of exposed beams and wiring, could be the beginning of a neat franchise. In addition to the programming, it has other quirks such as a refusal to sell conventional cinema confectionery. Instead it provides bubble tea - a refreshing kind of tapioca drink - and organic snacks. Next door there is the hip 'Almodobar' and a DVD store on a mezzanine level.