Web cuts into Korea b.o.

Report: Pirate downloads slam biz

The Korean film industry is in crisis, with losses from piracy equaling 40% of the industry's revenue, according to a report released Monday by the Samsung Economic Research Institute.

"After years of fast growth, South Korea's movie business is facing structural problems," the report said, blaming "a lack of creativity, slowing exports and weak demand caused by Internet piracy."

The report noted boxoffice revenue in the first half of 2007 was down 9.1% from 2006, and that local films accounted for just 41.6% of the market in the first half, the lowest level in six years. It also found that only 20 of the 108 movies released in 2006 broke even.

The report put the bulk of the blame on Korea's high-speed Internet, found in four out of five homes here, which facilitates convenient copyright violation, along with the reduction of the nation's screen quota for domestic films as of July 2006, from 106 to 73 days per year.

However, the report did not address the significant gains the local industry made from August to October, when it once again dominated theatrical distribution. As of Nov. 4, Korean films had climbed to 51.4% of the year's boxoffice.