SEOUL — Columbia TriStar will invest up to $10 million in a Korean pic to be produced by Hanmac Films and directed by Woo-seok Kang, helmer of recent box office hit “Public Enemy.”
The heads of Col TriStar Korea, Hanmac Film and Cinema Service announced the deal Friday in a joint press conference. Coin reps the biggest investment by a U.S. studio in a Korean movie, and it’s the first time that an American producer will fund an entire Korean film project.
Pic, tentatively titled “Silmido,” is a tragic story about the life of a North Korean spy based on Dong-ho Baek’s 1999 novel of the same name.
“The story is based on Dong-ho Baek’s 1999 novel ‘Silmido.’ I rewrote the script six times to get the feel just right,” said Hanmac Films president Hyung-joon Kim. “As it is a story about the painful separation of the two Koreas, it will appeal to both Korean and international audiences,” he added.
Cinema Service will retain local distribution while Col TriStar will be responsible for distributing it worldwide. Pic will shoot this summer and open next summer.
Hollywood majors have invested in Korean video sales businesses and in films for local distribution, but none of the deals have come near the $10 million Col TriStar is offering.
“This is a sign that the Korean film industry is really taking off, not only on a local scale but also internationally,” said Seung-hyon Lee, a film critic and industry watcher.
Korea also recently sold the remake rights to films “My Wife Is a Gangster,” “Hi Dharma” and “My Sassy Girl” to Hollywood.
“Columbia TriStar has been watching Korean film market’s potential for years. We hope that this investment project will be a win-win deal for everyone involved,” said Hyok-jo Kwon, president of the Seoul office of Col TriStar.
Kang said that he is considering casting one of Korea’s top three actors: Joong-hoon Park (“Nowhere to Hide”), Sung-jae Lee (“Public Enemy”) or Gyeong-gu Seol (“Public Enemy”). Col TriStar and Hanmac Films will split all profits after expenses, and Cinema Service will receive a fee for local distribution.