'D-War' Korea's all-time U.S. champ

Monster movie had greatest appeal with American audiences

SEOUL -- “D-War,” a monster flick with heavy CG done solely in Korea, is the the all-time Korean champ at the U.S. boxoffice, according to a recent report by the Korean Film Council examining the types of Korean films that have been released in the U.S.
 
The report, which analyzes patterns of Korean films released in the U.S. between 2002 and 2007, included their boxoffice result. “D-War,” directed by a comedian-turned-director Shim Hyung-rae opened on 2,277 screens in 2007 by Freestyle, and made over $10.97 million, followed by Kim Ki-duk’s Buddhist drama “Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter and Spring” by Sony Classics; Bong Joon-ho’s monster flick “The Host” by Magnolia; Kang Je-gyu’s war epic “Taeguki” by Samuel Goldwyn; Im Kwon-taek’s classic remake of “Chunhyang” by Lot 47 and Park Chan-wook’s second part of revenge trilogy “Old Boy” by Tartan.
 
The report claims that in spite of moderate success for Korean films in recent years, no particular genre represents Korean films that had opened in the U.S., unlike Japanese animation or Hong Kong kung-fu flicks. Instead, it shows that many of the Korean films that received U.S. distribution depended on the select names of auteurist directors such as Kim Ki-duk and Park Chan-wook who built their reputation through festival circuits.
 
In illustrating past examples of Korean films that could have been more successful, the report looks at “Taeguki” and “Typhoon,” which were marketed and screened locally as Hollywood-style blockbusters, but essentially lacked global themes that could pull in wider audiences overseas.

The paper indicated that melodramatic sentiment and historical themes in the two films that had appealed to many Koreans did not do the same in the West. In the case of “Taeguki,” it said that Korean distributors lacked thorough understanding of the U.S. film distribution system, given that the Korean epic, a story set during the Korean War, was distributed to Samuel Goldwyn, an indie film distributor, which was virtually inexperienced in handling major Hollywood genre films.
 
In the case of “Spring, Summer, Fall..,” the authors noted that the film’s success was strictly based on the style of art film marketing through film festivals. The paper offered several alternatives to market Korean films in the U.S.
 
Selling remake rights, particularly of films with “original and strong concept” to Hollywood studios is presented as one strategy. Other options, such as Hollywood films by Korean directors, creating a strong Asian fan base in Hollywood and film bodies like the Council to pay more attention to Korean nominations for the Academy Awards’ foreign-language film section, are also explored in the paper.
 
Separately, the report also suggested that government incentives for U.S.-Korea co-productions by giving location benefits and cost reductions for Hollywood production studios could help secure more shootings in Korea.
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