Acclaimed Korean Director’s Netflix Film Rejected By 93% of Theaters in South Korea

The majority of South Korean cinemas have decided to reject “Okja”, Netflix’s new film helmed by acclaimed director Bong Joon-ho.

Movie theater chain CGV was the first to deny the screening. Owning 39% of all theaters in the country, it argued that Netflix’s insistence on releasing the film online and in theaters simultaneously “will disturb the entire distribution system in Korea,” The Chosun Ilbo reported.

The chain referred to South Korea’s customary three-week space before a movie becomes available for streaming. This set-up, however, is contractual.

CGV’s move was followed by Lotte Cinema and Megabox shortly, which own 31% and 23% of theater market shares, respectively. “Okja” is therefore rejected by 93% of South Korean cinemas.

The film, reportedly made on a $60 million budget, has been highly anticipated by locals. According to Variety, distributor Next Entertainment World said that it would “look for other ways to open ‘Okja’ in physical cinemas on the scheduled date” of June 29. This means it will be negotiating with the remaining 7% of independent cinemas.

“Okja” previously suffered a similar controversy at the Cannes Film Festival as it had no French theatrical release date, IndieWire noted. Noah Baumbach’s “The Meyerowitz Stories”, another Netflix entry, had the same fate at the festival. In contrast to South Korea, France requires a three-year window period between theatrical and video on demand (VOD) releases.

“Okja” cast Ahn Seo-hyun, Tilda Swinton, Steven Yeun, Byun Hee-bong and Giancarlo Esposito will be attending the premiere screening for the press at Seoul’s Daehan Cinema on Monday.

Check out the film’s trailer below:

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