How Korean Sleeper Hits Are Finding Their Niche
When Koreaâ€™s largerst multiplex, CGV, decided to expand the number of screens devoted to independent films under a program entitled Movie Collage, the move was seen as a long-term investment.
The multiplex franchise, which now has 10 screens devoted to independent, art and documentary films, has been losing 3 billion won every year.
The company, though, has seen slow progress over the years. Last year, the Korean documentary Donâ€™t Cry for Me, Sudan which proved particularly popular among the middle-age group, went on to make the box office top 10 for several weeks. CGV introduced the film through Movie Collage but expanded distribution to general theaters as the demand went up.
â€œItâ€™s more like a community welfare project if you will,â€ said Yi Sang-kyu, head of PR at CGV. â€œIn recent years independent films like Old Partner did well but weâ€™re still operating these theaters at a loss. In the longer run, however, weâ€™re trying to satisfy a growing audience that wants more diversity onscreen.â€
CGVâ€™s expansion of its arthouse theaters reflects a bigger shift in the Korean film industry: more producers and filmmakers are recognizing the virtue of breaking even with small-to-mid-sized projects that cater to various niche markets.