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SPO finds the fountain of ‘Youth’

Romantic drama reunites 'Tutor' duo

SPO Entertainment has paid a multi-million dollar sum for Japanese rights to the latest Korean star vehicle “Youth Comics” (aka “Chung choon manhwa”).

Pic is a romantic drama that reunites Kwon Sang-woo and Kim Ha-neul, the stars of 2002 hit “My Tutor Friend.”

Rights were bought from production shingle Popcorn Films.

Korean press reports put the deal at $5.2 million, which compares with a combined production and Korean marketing budget of $6 million. Popcorn VP Jay Shim explained the figure was a straight license fee that does not contain an equity investment component. SPO offered no comment on the price tag.

Korean release is set for March through local major Showbox, which is investing in the picture with Popcorn. SPO says it will likely distribute in July or August.

Helmed by Lee Han, who previously directed hit meller “Lovers Concerto,” “Comics” is the story of two film students who realize they are meant for each other only when they have struck up other relationships.

SPO has previously handled Korean movies including fantasy actioner “Fighter in the Wind,” romantic comedy “My Little Bride” and art-house titles “Bad Guy” and “Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter… Spring.”

Deal underlines the high prices regularly paid by Japanese companies for rights to projects with Korean stars.

At this month’s AFM, Warner Bros Japan acquired Japanese rights to in-production romancer “My Girl” in a deal understood to exceed 90% of the film’s $3.7 million production budget. “Girl” is a Korean remake of 2004 Japanese weepie “Crying Out for Love in the Center of the World,” featuring TV star Song Hye-gyu.

Earlier this year Universal Japan paid a reported $7 million for Bae Yong-joon vehicle “April Snow,” which has now grossed a boffo $27 million.

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