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Korean Law to Limit Film Releasing Monopolies

The Korean government is to make it illegal to show a single film on more than 50% of screens nationwide. The move is intended to prevent “screen monopolies by blockbuster films” and to “address unfair competition practices in the film industry.”

The Ministry of Culture announced on Monday that it will revise the existing Promotion of the Motion Pictures and Video Products Act, and said that the revisions are being forwarded to the National Assembly (parliament).

Theater operators will not be allowed to allocate more than 50% of screens nationwide to a single film between 1pm and 11pm, the period when the attendance rate is the highest. The ministry said that on 12 occasions between 2016 and 2018 a single film had filled more than half of Korea’s theaters. That was a jump from just three between 2013 and 2015.

More than 90% of cinema screens in Korea are owned by an oligopoly of CJ CGV, Lotte Cinema, and Megabox. The concentration of so many screens in so few hands has been a major industry concern for several years – especially as those same companies are affiliated to distributors.

Guilds have long claimed that the vertically-integrated majors favor their own titles, and Hollywood blockbusters, to the detriment of independent films.

In April, Disney’s “Avengers: Endgame” opened on 2,835 screens, or 90% of the 3,128 nationwide.

The ministry also announced other plans that include: establishment of ASEAN-Republic of Korea Film Organization, a center that supports co-operation with the film industries in Southeast Asia; and launching a film fund for small and mid-sized productions.

“[The ministry] will try its best to support the film industry in this fast-changing environment where online platforms and 5G technology are rising,” said Park Yang-woo, Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism.

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