Cannes Competition Netflix title, Okja, runs into roadblock in South Korea
South Korean animated Okja, which created quite a flutter at Cannes 2017, has run into a roadblock in South Korea as a powerful exhibitor has said it will not be given screen space.world cinema Updated: Jun 03, 2017 13:53 IST
The South Korean animated Cannes Competition entry, Okja, -- which caused one of the biggest controversies in the just-concluded festival -- has run into a roadblock in its home territory. The CJ-CGV, South Korea’s most powerful cinema exhibitor, has said that Bong Joon-Ho’s movie, produced by Netflix, will not be given screen space. The exhibitor said in a statement that “a three-week hold-back period between theatrical opening and online release is an important business practice in Korea”.
Although there are films which are running simultaneously in the cinemas and online portals, the release dates are different. So, if Okja is given a special privilege, it can affect the entire distribution system in the country.
Okja will be available for Netflix users on June 28, and a June 29 date had been earlier fixed for the movie’s theatrical release. But this is not going to happen - even though Bong is a highly regarded director in Korea. However, the exhibitor said that the issue was still open for negotiation.
Okja caused some kind of furore at Cannes after the festival chief, Thierry Fremaux, pressured by the French cinemas, declared that come 2018, he would not take any film in Competition unless the producers agreed to the cinemas first rule.
France is bound by a law which makes it imperative that movies open in theatres before they are shown by streaming giants like Netflix and Amazon. This is to safeguard the interests of the cinemas - which Fremaux quite agrees with.
So does the president of the jury and Spanish legend, Pedro Almodovar. But when he read out his feelings on this during the first jury conference on the opening day of the festival, May 17, Will Smith, the popular Hollywood star and a juror, countered this by saying that he was open to the idea of Netflix showing its productions on its subscriber platform before being screened in the cinemas. It almost looked like an ugly spat between the two jurors - the first ever in the history of the festival.
Okja talks about the travails of a little girl whose genetically modified pig turns out to be a publicity stunt for a food industry chain. And the work takes us through a roller-coaster ride.
(Gautaman Bhaskaran covered the recent Cannes Film Festival.)
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First Published: Jun 03, 2017 13:52 IST