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CJ Ent. to Back Kim's Epic Western

2007/07/03 Source

Director Kim Jee-woon's big budget 'oriental western', "The Good, the Bad, the Weird" witnessed a weird change of financial hands while in the midst of production. Investor and distributor Showbox made a strange last-minute decision to pull out of the almost US$11 million project, while powerhouse competitor CJ Entertainment seems quite content to fill its place.

A new deal is currently underway for CJ to takeover chief financing and distribution of both KIM's film and the US$4.5 million fairy-tale-horror "Hansel and Gretel" by director Yim Pil-sung, known for his previous film "Antarctic Journal". Barunson Co. is producing both films while Cineclick Asia is handling international sales. KIM's western has already pre-sold to France's ARP Selection during the Cannes Market last May.

Many were perplexed by Showbox's withdrawal, speculating on whether the major local player was running short on investment capital. KIM's western is one of the most anticipated Korean films on the horizon and will allow the already dominant CJ a greater edge. With a shortage of local blockbusters this year and a strong line-up from Hollywood, investors have recognized the need to take risks and back films that can hold their own against moneyed US productions.

CJ had initially declined the project it's developmental stage due to its high budget, but in the light of the increasing hype and expectation the project has generated, along with new investment terms, the move is less surprising than Showbox's withdrawal.

The film will showcase an ensemble of stars in the central roles with Lee Byung-hun, ("the good"), Jung Woo-sung ("the bad") and Song Kang-ho ("the weird"). The film is set in Japanese-occupied Manchuria during the 1930's and tells the story of three Chosun dynasty horse-riding bandits who discover a treasure map. They are pursued by an army of national independence soldiers who believe it is a map of Japanese plans to build a railway. Obvious inspiration came from Sergio Leone classic, The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly but KIM insists the western will be of a distinctly Korean flavor.

Nigel D'Sa (KOFIC)

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