South Korea’s Lotte Aims for Epic Results With Star-Studded Lineup

South Korean 'major' Lotte brings heavyweight lineup to HK market

Lotte Entertainment may be South Korea’s No. 2 film company, but it hates to be overshadowed by market leader CJ Entertainment.

The company has no lack of ambition or resources. It is part of a huge conglomerate whose holdings range from department stores to home shopping, to international cinema management, film finance and production. Global YouTube sensation Psy brought his “Gangnam Style” performance to Lotte’s 2012 Busan party – in the company’s own five-star hotel.

With its 2014 FilMart slate, Lotte hopes to justify its billing as a major force in international film sales.

Its lineup at the Hong Kong event is headed by “The Fatal Encounter,” a period epic starring Hyun Bin and  directed by Lee Jae-kyoo, a high-profile TV drama producer (“The King 2 Hearts,” “Beethoven Virus”). “Encounter” is Lee’s first feature as director, but given the Asia-wide popularity of Korean TV series, Lotte is counting on his TV track record to deliver audiences and rights sales inside Korea and out.

Lotte is also pitching another period epic in “Memories of the Sword,” with superstar Lee Byung-hun (“Masquerade,” “G.I. Joe”) and actress Jeon Do-yeon (“Untold Scandal,” “The Housemaid”). Directed by Park Heung-shik, who worked with Jeon in 1998 in “The Harmonium of My Memory,” the star-studded cast as well as the unusual setting of Goryeo Period, rather than the more familiar Choseon dynasty, has stirred interest in Korea.

The casting of Kim Go-eun of “The Muse” is an interesting counterpoint to the two more established talents. Kim also stars in “Monster,” a thriller that is also in the company’s FilMart lineup.

With both “Encounter” and “Sword” in post-production, buyers will have to be content with promo screenings at FilMart.

“We have not achieved our desired results lately, but we are confident that these large-scale period epics, with their star casts and talented directors, will turn things around,” said Eun-hye Byeon, senior manager of international sales at Lotte. “Our lineups were rather limited in terms of genre up until now, but we have a much broader range on offer in Hong Kong. We expect this year’s FilMart to be the setting for a relaunch of Lotte.”

Around the corner, Lotte has two more pics expected to draw big audiences. “Pirates,” a period epic set during the Choseon dynasty and directed by Lee Seok-hoon, has particular resonance in Hong Kong this week – its star Kim Nam-gil was named as rising star talent by the Asian Film Awards Academy on Sunday. The pic will get a promo screening at Cannes.

And in the second half of the year Lotte will debut “Tazza 2,” its long-awaited sequel to 2006 hit gangster action movie “Tazza: The High Rollers.”

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