The first part of John Woo’s epic “Red Cliff” will go out in South Korea via Korean distributor (and investor) Showbox in slightly truncated form: While the rest of the region will get the Woo cut of two hours, 23 minutes, the Showbox version is nine minutes shorter.
“We actually wanted to make it a two-hour movie, but we found all the episodes of the film very meaningful and could not eliminate any of them. In the end we found three scenes that we could shorten,” said Showbox VP of acquisitions Chris Lee.
“John has given his blessing for them to do this,” producer Terence Chang told Daily Variety. “But he said he doesn’t want to watch it.”
In South Korea, “Red Cliff” is the only significant title opening this week (it bows Thursday), though the window is narrow. Showbox expects “Wanted” to hold well and is hoping that weak reviews for “Hancock,” which opened this weekend, translate into a quick dropoff. Opening on July 17 is Kim Jee-woon’s highly anticipated “kimchi Western” “The Good the Bad the Weird,” which is expected to do stellar business for exhibitor-distrib CJ Entertainment.
Nevertheless, Lee said Showbox is putting its full weight behind “Red Cliff.” Company has ordered 380 prints and booked 400 screens so far, though that could go to 450 depending on exhibitor appetite and advance booking volume. “Although local movies tend to open wider, for a foreign movie this is the equivalent of a ‘Spider-Man,’ ” she said. “But then again this is more than a Chinese-language movie; this is a story that 80% of Asians have read.”
Showbox will roll out the second part of “Red Cliff” in January.