Some 10,000 industryites are expected to rally in Seoul on Saturday to protest against cuts to the screen quotas in South Korea that come into force that day, and which they claim protect the industry from a deluge of Hollywood pics.
Many production companies plan to suspend shooting for three days in support of the rally.
A series of single-person protests that have taken place since the government’s decision was announced in January will wrap July 4 — a significant date, as filmmakers believe the government bowed to U.S. pressure for the cuts in order to push through a reciprocal trade agreement.
Veteran director Im Kwon-taek, shooting his 100th film, “Thousand Year Crane,” will be the last solo protestor to take part.
The quota requires all theaters to screen local pix for 30%-40% per year, depending on various factors.
This will be cut to 20%, meaning that from July-December exhibitors must screen South Korean films for at least 36 days.
In practice they are likely to exceed that number, given a string of upcoming blockbusters such as Bong Joon-ho’s monster film “The Host” and local hero Park Chan-wook’s “I’m a Cyborg, but That’s Okay.”
Local market share in the first five months of the year topped 60%.
The Ministry of Culture argues local films are already internationally competitive, and that “any shortcomings will be made up for by industry support policies.”
However, Saturday ushers in another change for the industry that may have more concrete effects in the short term.
Since the late 1990s, local telcos SK Telecom, KTF and LG Telecom have offered viewers discounts on movie tickets as part of subscriber plans. However, after failure to reach a revised agreement on cost-sharing with local exhibs, the discounts will no longer apply. With an estimated 30%-40% of the moviegoing public having made regular use of the discounts, the effective price hike could hit admissions.