‘Green Planet’ invades web

Quirky trailer hitches genre auds to Korean pic

Trailer sites on the Web are seeing traffic surge these days, as fans flock to see promos of the studios’ summer tentpoles.

But one of the most-viewed trailers is for an obscure Korean movie you’ve probably never heard of: “Save the Green Planet.”

The pic’s had more than its share of ups and downs in its short history, but won’t go away and may be on its way to becoming a cult fave.

The trailer made its Web bow less than three weeks ago. (In the interest of full disclosure, The first site to have it was Variety.com’s Variety Vision, and Variety‘s Asian Film blogger Grady Hendrix has done publicity for the pic.)

By last week, several sites listed it among their most-viewed and most-desired trailers. It was easily the most-watched trailer on videodetective.com.

This for a genre-bending film from a first-time helmer that flopped in its home country and just made its U.S. debut on a single Gotham screen.

Korean writer-director Jang Jun-Hwan‘s anti-violence pic follows an amphetamine-crazed beekeeper who kidnaps a chemical tycoon because he’s convinced the man is spearheading an alien invasion force.

With the help of his circus-performer girlfriend, he tries to torture the exec into revealing the Andromedans’ plans for the destruction of Earth.

Film made its fest bow at Hong Kong in April 2003 and over the next year took best-of-fest honors at Puchon and a Golden Raven in Brussels, as well as a fistful of acting, choreography and directing kudos.

Even so, it failed at the box office in South Korea in its 2003 release. Distrib CJ Entertainment marketed it as a romantic date movie, but couples were so appalled that it’s even become a punchline in other films.

Richard Lorber of distrib Koch-Lorber says he encountered “Green Planet” at one of its last fest appearances, at Rotterdam in January 2004.

“I see a lot of stuff, but it took the glaze off my eyes,” says Lorber. “It had an energy, a manic style, and an intelligence and a rigor in its phantsamagorical approach to its issues.”

Lorber pursued U.S. rights and locked them up last fall. Koch-Lorber immediately threw out CJ’s marketing materials and cut its own trailer.

One reason the trailer’s so popular, he opines, is that while people who see it do want to talk about it, it’s impossible to synopsize. “People take a deep breath and say, ‘You just have to see the trailer,’ ” he says.

Pic’s U.S. Web site stresses its quirkiness, down to “I Need a Hug — Now!” buttons that give a disturbing response.

Though this doesn’t necessarily translate to ticket sales, and its New York gross has been hurt by a tepid review in the Times, the online popularity of the trailer has Koch-Lorber thinking about extending its theatrical window.