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Korean films back in the black in 2003

2003/12/25 Source

Korean films were back in the black in 2003, just a year after they were awash in red ink, according to statistics compiled by the production company IM Pictures. Korean films combined for profits of 1.4 billion won this year, a tiny sum that still marks a notable turnaround from last year when they left losses of 30.8 billion won.

Last year saw a rude crushing of investor illusions in the film industry as big-budget blockbusters like "Yesterday", "R U Ready?" and "Resurrection of the Little Match Girl" flopped one after the other at the box office.

Financial managers who had been drawn to the film industry by rumors of a lucrative boom pulled out en masse, fueling fears of a "Chungmuro IMF" that would hurt the rapid growth of Korean cinema.

The latest figures indicate, however, that the film industry has rebounded strongly with smart investing in a period of uncertainty. Sixty-four Korean films were released in 2003 through Dec. 14, a 15.8 percent drop from last year. Earnings, however, rose by 20 percent over last year.

As money fled from the film industry, projects without a clear vision were abandoned, resulting in fewer but better titles actually reaching theaters, according to experts.

The film industry is still far from being a reliable investment, however. Of the 64 Korean films released this year, only 20 of them brought profits while the remainder suffered losses.

In particular, the latest numbers indicate that the local market may not be ripe for big-budget productions yet. Among films with a budget over 4.5 billion won, only "Untold Scandal" was a box office hit, as the others all failed to recoup their costs.

"Tube", "Sword in the Moon", "Natural City" and "The Legend Of Evil Lake" left losses of 20 billion won altogether.

Meanwhile, the production company Myung Films experimented with a highly original method to raise money for "A Good Lawyer's Wife", allowing ordinary people to invest in the film via an "Internet fund".

The film went on to attract 1.7 million viewers nationwide, generating an impressive gain of 79.4 percent for those who participated in the Internet fund. The success story is likely to establish the Internet fund as a valuable method of financing in the future.

By Kim Jin

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