Korea still thinks locally despite weak year at b.o.

Homegrown pics take big dip in '07

Despite a 25.7% drop in admissions to Korean-made films in 2007 — the first decline in theatrical attendance in a decade — Korea's top movie companies say they have no plans on reducing their output in 2008.

According to a boxoffice report issued Monday by CJ CGV, Korea's largest multiplex chain, the nation's movie market saw theatrical attendance decline 5.5 % in 2007.

"Despite the decline, we will invest in and distribute films at the similar level as we did in 2007," said Katharine Kim, head of international business and worldwide distribution at CJ Entertainment.

Mediaplex, CJ's biggest competitor, echoed a similar position.

"It's a sign that it's time for change," said Jeong Tae-sung, chief operating officer at Motion 101, the young production arm of Mediaplex. "The key is how people will handle that change. We will be more creative and aggressive, looking for stories with an edge and fresh ideas."

Most of the decline in overall attendance came from a sharp drop in local admissions, which plunged 25% to 80.1 million, the territory's worst showing since 2003.

International films, on the other hand, rose 31.6% to 77.5 million admissions, their best results ever.

Overall, local films accounted for 50.8% of admissions, down sharply from last year's 64.7% and their weakest showing since 2002.

Despite the drop, Korea still posted the second-strongest overall attendance figure in history, with 157.5 million admissions.

The CGV report also said that the top movie for the year was Showbox's effects-driven creature feature "D-War," with 8.4 million admissions.

The top imported film was "Transformers," with 7.3 million admissions, making it the most successful foreign movie ever in Korea.

An official report on the 2007 Korean market will be issued by the Korean Film Council in the coming weeks.