Korean production house shifts focus

SEOUL — The co-prexies of South Korea’s leading production shingle SidusFNH, Tcha Seung-jae and Kim Mi-hee, have ankled the company.

The pair quit last week at the behest of SidusFNH’s parent company Korea Telecom.

Tcha and Kim had been with SidusFNH since they merged their production houses four years ago in order to be acquired by KT, Korea’s largest fixed-line phone operator and Internet service provider. They produced more than 20 films while at SidusFNH, including box office hits “Tazza: The High Rollers” and “My Scary Girl.”

The pair’s contracts were set to run until May 2010.

KT has yet to name a new topper at SidusFNH.

Kim will continue in her role as producer of “The Last Empress,” a period action drama due to be released by Showbox later this year.

Tcha had been developing a sequel to “Tazza” with helmer Chang Joon-hwan (“Save the Green Planet”), but has not revealed whether he will stay on board the project.

The resignations were prompted in part by the poor B.O. perf of recent pics but also because of cost-cutting at KT in the wake of the economic downturn.

KT, which holds 51% of the shares at SidusFNH, has recently shuffled its exec ranks as KT’s new president Lee Suk-chae seeks ways to cut costs throughout its subsidiary companies.

Quashing rumors that KT would quit the film biz, a spokesperson for SidusFNH said that KT would strengthen its entertainment content business in order to provide content to its IPTV services MEGA-TV and QOOK TV.

KT recently gained regulatory approval to merge with KTF, Korea’s second-largest mobile telephone operator behind SK Telecom, which will take effect on June 1.

SidusFNH’s newly established investment and distribution team will help shift the company’s focus from production to investment and to operate KT’s $128 million film fund.

SidusFNH will launch an international arm covering sales and acquisition at Cannes. In the past, the company entrusted its international sales business to Hong Kong’s Golden Networks. However, it has decided to sell the latest and upcoming titles itself, including romantic dramas “Wedding Dress” and “I Love You So.”

“We have enlarged the local distribution slate this year, including five Korean films and 28 foreign films. We will also start to acquire films and unveil global co-production projects at Cannes,” Park Juyoung, the head of international business at SidusFNH, told Variety.

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