×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Team of Rivals: South Korea’s Film Companies Strive to Cooperate

Competing buyers and distributors attempt to unite as they call for fairer business practices

During the Busan Intl. Film Festival last year, South Korean film companies got together and launched the Foreign Film Buyer-Distributors Assn. of Korea.

About 300 independent companies are registered in South Korea as buyers or distributors, or both, according to the Korean Film Council, but fewer than 10% are actually functioning as such.

The association initially started as a group of 21 companies aiming to improve their business environment. After seven months, however, only half the founding members remain active in the organization. That already shows how difficult it is for the small-sized companies to cooperate when there is little room for indie releases in local cinema and the business is all about competition.

“There are a certain number of films that buyers would all like to buy at film markets, meaning that we’re competitors. Of course it is quite difficult for companies in such condition to get together and promote common interests,” Kim Sang-yun of Cinelux, co-head of the association, told Variety. “However, there are also certain things that cannot be solved if we don’t unite.”

Some of the ongoing problems in the industry include over-competitive bids made at markets and fests, unfair business practice in contracts with sales agents and even in local distribution.

“Over-competitive bids sometimes make buyers believe that they have no choice but to pay more than the asking price, even if they know it is overpriced,” says Kim. “I thought maybe the association can come up with guidelines for those cases. Yes, we do compete in the market, but I believe we can prevent unnecessary disadvantages if we unite.”

At a press conference last year, Kim Nan-sook of Jinjin Pictures mentioned that Korean buyers sometimes end up with unfair or less-than-fair contract conditions. “For example,” she said, “if we already have the Korean rights to Ken Loach’s ‘I, Daniel Blake,’ it means that we have the priority in negotiating with the Busan festival to screen it. Sometimes, however, licensors ignore such right and negotiate with festivals directly, taking screening fees.”

Kim Sang-yun suggests that a standard contract would be a solution. “We have learned that there are Korean buyers that sign unfair contracts with sales agents that actually have no problem with other buyers,” he says. “We mean to start with what we can do — creating a standard form of contract is time-consuming and is not easy, but for now, it is important to at least share information transparently.”

Joint marketing is also under way as part of the cooperation. At a screening of “The Music of Strangers: Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble” that Jinjin Pictures distributed in January, trailers of films that other members of the association had bought were screened.

“We’re all small companies and the association is young,” says Kim Sang-yun. “We can’t achieve things at once. What matters is to create a precedent. When we went to film markets, we gathered and discussed what we can do in the long term. Though it might not be possible at the Marche du Film in Cannes this year, we look to import good films as a team.”

(Pictured above: Xavier Dolan’s “It’s Only the End of the World,” one of many titles distributed by members of Korea’s new film association.)

More Biz

  • Kevin Tsujihara

    Kevin Tsujihara's Ouster Kicks Off a Week of Major Disruption in the Media Business

    The sudden ouster of Warner Bros. Entertainment chief Kevin Tsujihara kicked off what is likely to go down as one of the most extraordinary weeks in Hollywood history, spelling enormous turmoil and transition across the media landscape. In addition to the news about Tsujihara, which comes amid a wider shake-up of leadership at AT&T’s WarnerMedia, [...]

  • Disney Fox mega deal acquisition Illustration

    Disney Closes $71 Billion 21st Century Fox Deal

    Before the end of the East Coast airing of “Jimmy Kimmel Live!”, Disney has formally sealed the deal on its $71 billion acquisition of 21st Century Fox. “This is an extraordinary and historic moment for us — one that will create significant long-term value for our company and our shareholders,” Disney chairman-CEO Bob Iger said [...]

  • Chinese Tech Firm Huawei Seeks Content

    Beleaguered Chinese Tech Firm Huawei Seeks Content for Expansion Into Southeast Asia

    One of the most surprising first-time attendees at FilMart is Chinese tech giant Huawei, which has come to Hong Kong to acquire the video content it needs to support its strategy of expansion into Southeast Asia. The company is currently embroiled in a PR nightmare as it defends itself against accusations that its equipment could [...]

  • Viacom HQ LA

    Viacom Goes to War With AT&T Over DirecTV Carriage Deal

    Viacom has declared war against AT&T, blasting the telco giant on several fronts as the companies wrestle over a carriage renewal deal that is vital to Viacom’s long-term financial health. As of today, Viacom has begun running crawls and promo spots on its channels warning viewers that Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, BET, MTV and other channels [...]

  • Peloton Sued for $150 Million for

    Peloton Sued for $150 Million for Using Drake, Lady Gaga Music Without License

    A group of publishers including Downtown Music Publishing, Pulse Music Publishing, ole, peermusic, Ultra Music, Big Deal Music, Reservoir, Round Hill, TRO Essex Music Group and The Royalty Network filed a lawsuit against Peloton for infringement of more than a thousand musical works, according to a statement from the National Music Publishers Association. The plaintiffs are [...]

  • Bruce Ramer Re-Appointed to Corporation for

    Bruce Ramer Re-Appointed to Corporation for Public Broadcasting Board

    Top showbiz attorney Bruce Ramer has been reappointed to the board of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the nonprofit org that administers federal funding for public broadcasting. Ramer, a partner at Gang, Tyre, Ramer, Brown & Passman, was elected chair of the CPB board in October. He previously served as board chair from 2010-2012. His [...]

  • Gary Knell

    Listen: National Geographic Chief Gary Knell on Disney Future, Fox's Legacy

    The marriage of National Geographic Partners and Disney, which becomes official today, is the proverbial brand match made in heaven. Disney is taking over the stewardship of Nat Geo Partners — a joint venture with the National Geographic Society — as part of its acquisition of 21st Century Fox. The transition comes at a time [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content