The name of the company Contents Panda — the international sales arm of Korean independent film financier and distributor Next Entertainment World — literally translates as “to sell content” in the Korean language.
And that’s exactly what it aims to do. “Our goal is to sell extensive content globally so that we’re true to our name,” says Contents Panda vice president Kim Jae-min.
Contents Panda was established as NEW’s ancillary rights subsidiary for IPTV and VoD content in 2013. During Berlin’s European Film Market last year, it expanded to handle international sales of NEW-made films — previously handled by Finecut and M-line Distribution — in the hope of branding them under the company’s own wing.
“In a long-term perspective, we also want to grow into a sales specialist that other companies would commission to sell their products,” Kim says, “but handling our own content well is of course the primary goal.”
He adds that youth comedy “Twenty,” high-concept fantasy romance “The Beauty Inside” and naval battle drama “Northern Limit Line” saw better-than-expected sales results.
In only its second year in the business, Contents Panda has already secured its first Cannes berth with Yeon Sang-ho’s zombie thriller “Train to Busan,” set for a midnight screening. “Train” is the animation wunderkind’s first live-action film after a string of critically acclaimed animated features.
Kim admits the company actively pursued the festival for the slot. “We did not want to just send over a screener and hope that Cannes selected it among thousands of other submissions,” he says. “Instead, we went to France, met the selectors in person and showed it [to them]. That is our principle when we do sales — to take the initiative and show the world the content we’re confident about.”
Asia is Contents Panda’s key export market at the moment, but it is already looking to challenge itself in the global market. “I don’t think Hong Sang-soo and Kim Ki-duk are the only Korean filmmakers that French audiences like,” Kim says. “It is a sales company’s job to seek out and pick up films that can appeal to each territory.”