China welcomes 'Haeundae' wave

Korean disaster film looks for success onshore in China

SEOUL -- In a rare indication of endorsing non-Hollywood films, state-run China Film Group confirmed Tuesday it will import “Haeundae,” a big-budget Korean disaster movie, on a revenue-sharing basis.

The film by Yoon Je-kyoon (“Sex is Zero”) about a tsunami sweeping the local beachfront is targeted for a wide release in the country as early as late August.

CJ Entertainment, the film’s co-producer and a distributor, is currently setting out details with the Chinese entity, but if all goes as planned, “Haeundae” will be one of the few Korean films to share boxoffice revenue with the Chinese importer.

The decision is likely to have been calculated by the CFG, based on the film’s successful boxoffice take at home during its opening weekend, and an attractive celebrity cast including Sol Kyung-gu, Park Jung-hun and Ha Ji-won. The film since opening Wednesday in nationwide theaters has so far attracted over 2 million filmgoers on 893 screens.

Previously, Kwak Jae-yong’s romance “The Classic” and Shim Hyung-rae’s monster flick “D-War” were distributed as revenue-sharing releases in China.

“The release of a Korean film in China on a revenue-sharing basis in itself is very significant,” said Mike Suh, the head of international sales at CJ. “We don’t have a particular competitor at the moment, and given that August is a high season in Chinese theaters, we’re expecting a big success in the country.”

A Chinese official quoted in a press release by CJ explained that most Korean films opened in Chinese theaters about six months to year after they are first released at home, noting that it's highly unusual for a Korean film to be released only a month later. The official also added that the film's big-scale disaster theme and family drama drew the company's attention, adding that the film is expected to "set a record as the biggest boxoffice hit" among the Korean films that have been released in China. 

CJ is currently organizing a promotional tour of the film’s director and main cast members in Beijing and Shanghai prior to the film's opening in China. "Haeundae" is also waiting for theatrical release in Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam in September.