CJ Entertainment turns double play

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BERLIN -- CJ Entertainment has boarded Park Chan-Wook's latest project, now titled "Thirst," and "The Good, the Bad and the Weird," helmed by Kim Ji-Woon.

In a double whammy for the busy South Korean sales, distribution and financier, CJ Entertainment said Friday that it expects to close deals on both projects for U.S. distribution and is in negotiations "with studios big and small" for "Oldboy" director Park's "Thirst," according to international sales and acquisitions chief Tom Oh.

Oh said "Thirst," budgeted at $7 million, is scheduled to shoot in March and aims to roll out the project in South Korea by the end of this year. It details the story of a priest who turns into a vampire after a failed medical experiment and his battle for survival.

"Thirst" is being produced by Moho Films. Oh said CJ Entertainment is putting up finance in return for worldwide sales rights and South Korean distribution rights.

CJ Entertainment also has snapped up Korean distribution rights to "Weird" and is just starting presales -- excluding a handful of territories, including Japan -- at the European Film Market.

Oh said the Kim-directed project is "one of the biggest budgets for a Korean movie ever" at $17 million. The deal with the filmmakers and CJ was struck early Friday morning, and Oh and his team are hurriedly fixing up meet-and-greets with buyers.

The project started out at rival Korean outfit Cineclick Asia. Oh declined comment on his company's swoop for the title.

Set in Manchuria in the 1930s, "Weird" deals with three Korean men and their entanglement with the Japanese army and Chinese and Russian bandits, according to one Internet site.

Kim has enjoyed success at the boxoffice in Asia with such titles as "The Foul King" (2000), "A Tale of Two Sisters" (2003) and "A Bittersweet Life" (2005).
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