Korean movie sales drop

Japanese demand for exports on the decline

SEOUL — The decline of Japan’s brief love affair with Korean film has affected the South Korean export market and driven down the numbers for foreign pics in Japan, according to recent reports.

Exports of South Korean films showed another precipitous drop in the first half of 2007, according to a report issued by the Korean Film Council. The territory made 148 deals totaling $7.49 million in the first half, a 57% drop from the previous year. After expanding for nine years in a row to peak in 2005 at $76 million, South Korean exports have now settled roughly to 2002 levels.

Japan, the territory that powered the mid-decade boom, showed the biggest drop in such exports, with $2.2 million worth of deals, compared with $8.7 million over the first half of 2006. Japanese buyers have kept their wallets shut following a string of box office failures in the territory, together with a perceived slackening of interest in Korean pop culture.

Other territories that showed a decline for buying South Korean pics include Thailand and the U.S.

Increases were notched in France, Taiwan and Hong Kong.

This year’s decline stands as a further indication of the settling of the Korean Wave within Asia. And few large-scale genre projects are in the pipeline, with the notable exception of Kim Jee-woon’s epic Western “The Good, the Bad, the Weird,” in production in China.

Japanese dips

In Japan, figures released by the Foreign Film Importer-Distributors Assn. of Japan show that both Korean and Hong Kong pics dipped this year.

From January to the end of June, 173 foreign pics opened on Japanese screens, compared with 200 in the same period for the year before. U.S. led the pack with 74 releases, followed by Korea with 13, the U.K. and France with nine each and China with seven. 

The decrease in Korean pics year-on reflects their soft performance at the Japanese B.O. Last year, not one Korea pic cleared the ¥1 billion ($8.5 million) B.O. hurdle, considered the mark of a commercial hit.

 Likewise fading from local screens are Hong Kong pics. Only two were released in Japan in the first half of the year, compared with 13 the same period in 2006. U.S. releases in Japan, however, held at steady levels.

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