Pancinema gets paid for 'Rain'

Producer pre-sells film to Japanese distributor

SEOUL -- In a possible sign of improving fortunes for Korea’s beat-up film export sector, Korean producer Pancinema this week revealed a rare pre-sale of a South Korean movie to a Japanese distributor.

"Season of Good Rain" was originally conceived as a film with two separate versions; one as a segment of "Chengdu I Love You," a multinational omnibus film about college friends who reunite and fall in love, alongside elements by Hong Kong director Fruit Chan and Chinese rock star Cui Jian; and a full-length feature version aimed at local Korean audiences.

The film, with a budget of two billion won ($800,000), is set up as a Korean-Chinese co-production involving Pancinema, Taurus Film, Ho Films and China’s Zonbo Media although the film’s Chinese release is still under negotiation.

In Korea, distribution is through N.E.W Co., a new distribution and production investment outfit establish by former staff from Showbox.

Amuse will have the picture released theatrically in Japan through Showgate, with an outing tentatively set for November. The license deal was originally agreed in March, although only recently completed, when Pancinema finalized details of the production. The film is currently in post-production.

The acquisition is also a rare move from a Japanese point of view. While Japanese distributors were once the most voracious buyers of Korean movies, sometimes paying license fees that exceeded the production budget -- in early days of the "Korean Wave" Amuse handled Korean blockbusters "Joint Security Area," "Silmido" and "My Sassy Girl" -- Nippon distributors were conspicuous at Cannes this year by their almost total lack of dealflow.

"It was unique in that the film was sold to the Japanese company while the film’s script was still in progress," said Park Hye-gyeong, a Pancinema marketing executive.