Korean production company goes for $15.2 mil

SEOUL – Korean production shingle SM Pictures has been sold to Premiere Entertainment, one of the country’s major DVD production and distribution outfits.

Parent, SM Entertainment disclosed in June that it had sold 34% of SM Pictures to Premiere for $15.2 million as part of a business reorganization and cash raising exercise. Now, Lee Soo-man, prexy of SM Entertainment, is also selling Premiere his 5.6% stake in SM Pictures for $2.5.

With control of over 40% of the company Premiere has now changed SM Pictures’ name to PRE, but kept its stock market listing.

SM Entertainment was one of the companies most visibly responsible for creating ‘Korean Wave’ pop idols earlier this decade. As the first entertainment company to list on the KOSDAQ market in 2000, it moved into film by acquiring another listed film company BITWIN which it renamed SM Pictures in late 2006. BITWIN was previously a well known VHS/DVD distributor in Korea, representing library titles for 20th Century Fox and major TV broadcasters.

SM Entertainment aimed to leverage its DVD production and distribution strength to the advantage of the movie production unit. It produced the feature “Attack on the Pinup Boys” and put up coin for script development.

Premiere was set up in 2000 as a DVD production and distribution company, and has expanded into film and TV dramas, online movie distribution and film production. It also has handled video distribution for Sony Pictures and Warner Bros.

Premiere began film production with Ye Ji-won starrer “Happy Killing,” a co-venture with SidusFNH. Premiere and Prime Entertainment co-produced “Punch Lady”(2007) and “The Game”(2008) and will see their “Baby and I”, released on August 14. So far business plans for PRE have not been revealed.

Even with the sale of SM Pictures, SM Entertainment may not be quitting movies. It has incorporated some of its film department into the parent company and is understood to be evaluating a number of scripts.

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