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Korean movies turning heads in Hollywood: LA Times

2006/11/07 | Permalink | Source

The Los Angeles Times has reported that Korea's burgeoning movie industry is penetrating the international movie market, enjoying a creative surge reminiscent of 1970s Hollywood when the films of Martin Scorsese and Hal Ashby first burst onto the big screen.

In an article titled "Coming attractions" in the Sunday (Nov. 5) edition of The Los Angeles Times, Lorenza Muņoz and Josh Friedman report that Korea has become "the second-most significant Asian market" after Japan for Hollywood studios -- thanks to the emergence of a generation of filmmakers who assiduously studied the components of Hollywood movies, "deep-pocketed" multinational companies that financed the modernization of Korean movie theaters and moviegoers who long for quality films.

They describe Korea as "one of the world's hottest film centers" with box-office hits and critical favorites that have studio executives and agents longing for remake rights and distribution deals.

In the piece, L.A.-based movie promoter Roy Lee describes the allure of Korean films: "Sometimes the Hollywood studio development process results in movies losing their individuality and uniqueness. Over there, they are not stifled".

"It is now a strong national cinema and can be talked about in the same breath as, for example, French, Spanish or Japanese cinema", Tony Safford, senior vice president of acquisitions for 20th Century Fox, says in the report.

The article covered Korean companies' strong representation at Santa Monica's annual American Film Market and the Los Angeles debut of Korea's top-grossing horror flick "The Host" at the AFI Fest in Hollywood on Friday (Nov. 3). Universal Pictures has already bought the remake rights, hoping to replicate Warner Bros'. $100-million success with "The Lake House", another Korean-inspired tale.

According to the report, other Korean hits Hollywood is banking on include "Old Boy", winner of the 2004 Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival, which Universal Pictures is currently reworking, and "A Tale of Two Sisters" that Paramount Pictures' Dream Works SKG plan to remake by 2008.

The Times' writers picked "Shiri" as "Korea's first true blockbuster", pointing out that in 1999 it outperformed "Titanic" on the peninsula. Building on the revenue and reputation from the succession of record-breaking films that have followed that South-North spy thriller, Korea is no longer seen as an international cinema backwater, the article concludes, but the home of a generation of gifted filmmakers backed by serious money and a nation of fans with high expectations.

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