Korean major CJ Entertainment is teaming withmerchandising and licensing company Barunson to finance eight upcoming projectsby star directors, including Oldboy's Park Chan-wook.

In a significant development for the local industry,all eight projects will be shot in high-definition (HD) digital format.

In addition to Park, the directors include RyooSeung-wan (Arahan), Hur Jin-ho (April Snow), Yu Ha (Once UponA Time In High School), Choi Dong-hoon (The Big Swindle), LeeMoo-young (The Humanist), Choi Ik-hwan (upcoming horror film TheVoice), plus a yet-to-be-chosen debut director.

The first project to enter production will be Jjakpae(working title) by Ryoo Seung-wan, which will start shooting in November, withthe others scheduled to be shot over the next two years.

CJ says that use of the HD format will enable thefilms to be budgeted in the $1.5m to $2.5m range, a saving of some 30% overtraditional 35mm film. Although to dateKorea has only deployed a handful of digital projectors, digital screeningswill also be used as a means of trimming distribution expenses.

Barunson, a new entrant to the film industry, alsoannounced separately this week that they will fully finance two upcomingprojects each by star directors Kim Jee-woon (A Bittersweet Life) andBong Joon-ho (Memories Of Murder).

In an industry where the star power of actors issteadily increasing - with many talent management agencies insisting onco-producing films that feature their clients - Barunson's move is beinginterpreted as a new strategy targeting the directors in Korea who enjoy namerecognition among local audiences.