SEOUL — A potentially powerful new player is set to emerge in the Korean film industry following the acquisition of production company LJ Films by Innotz, a Korea Stock Exchange-listed subsidiary of the Prime Group.
With a full merger to be completed within three months, the new vertically-integrated company is set to launch operations in film and TV investment, production, distribution, exhibition and international sales.
In terms of branding, the exhibition interests will be called Prime Cinema, and distribution will be referred to as either Innotz Entertainment or Prime Distribution, to be decided at a later date.
Three talent management companies owned by LJ Films and representing 50 actors including popular stars Song Kang-ho, Moon So-ri and Moon Geun-young will also fall under the umbrella of the new company, although the three firms — Namu Actors, Byeol-moa Entertainment and Blue Dragon — have voiced strong opposition to the deal.
LJ Films CEO Lee Seung-jae told Daily Variety that the new company, of which he would not be CEO, would operate a $50 million fund for film and TV investment and produce two Korean films, two overseas film projects and five TV dramas per year. Together with imported titles the new distributor would handle 15 releases annually.
Prime Cinema also plans to make use of Innotz’s real estate and construction businesses eventually to operate 25 theaters throughout Korea, including a skedded 25-screen megaplex that would rank as Korea’s largest.
Ownership of the group will be divided between the Prime Group at 20% and Lee Seung-jae at 10%, with the rest held in public stocks.
The new company is expected to aggressively pursue international partnerships on works such as the $20 million “Julia Project,” about the wife of Korea’s last crown prince, which is nearing a deal with a U.S. partner. “Globalization is the key to all of our thinking,” said Lee.