Blu-ray shines at Pusan fest

Korean DVD companies launch campaign

PUSAN — In a little-known companion to the Pusan Film Festival last week Korean DVD distributors and electronics companies launched the inaugural Blu-ray Film Festival in Pusan near PIFF’s main venue. Event was supported by the Blu-ray Disc Assn. and Kofic, the Korean Film Council.

Running Oct. 6-8, the festival’s goal was to revitalize the ancillary market in South Korea, screening 13 films in Blu-ray at a local theatrical chain Cinus.

The festival is also the first big promotion event in South Korea sponsored by Blu-ray Disc Assn., which comprises more than 200 electronics and visual content companies around the world. The association provided $50,000.

Organizers exhibited related product such as HDTV sets and Blu-ray players.

The free program included “Troy,” “Shine a Light,” “Lust, Caution,” “Platoon,” “The Shining,” “Blade Runner” and “Speed Racer.” Bong Joon-ho’s “The Host” was among the local films.

“Blu-ray disc is rapidly replacing the existing DVD format in the States and Japan,” says Minna Bhang, senior manager at the visual display division of Samsung Electronics, which backed the event. “We need to promote electronics hardware and film contents together to promote and establish the Blu-ray disc market in Korea.”

HDTV sets represent 30% of South Korea’s TV households, Bhang says. But most consumers lack of information how to enjoy high quality audiovisual content. “If we can enlarge the Blu-Ray disc market, more electronics products will be sold,” Bhang adds.

The homevideo market in South Korea has been severely damaged by pirated DVDs and illegal downloads, which has in turn impactedthe overall structure of the Korean film industry. The lack of ancillary markets means that a Korean film typically earns 80% of its revenues on theatrical release.

Most of the Hollywood studios have closed or announced plans to shutter their direct video distribution operations in South Korea; Warner Home Video is the exception.

 Blu-ray Fest organizers hope the ancillary market will recover if the current DVD market is replaced with Blu-ray. It’s estimated that 1% of Korean households own Blu-ray players.

Kofic has made reviving South Korea’s ancillary markets one of its top policy initiatives. It is looking at the packaged media sector, a paid-for online download sector and IPTV sectors.