With over a 100 films rumored to have been delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the South Korean film industry is trying to change how films are released domestically.
CJ ENM, one of the country’s biggest entertainment companies, is taking the lead by releasing films simultaneously in movie theaters and on over-the-top (OTT) platforms. According to a report by media outlet Starnews, the films Midnight and Punishment are among the company’s movies that may soon greet the public.
In April 2021, the Gong Yoo and Park Bo-gum starrer Seobok became the first big-budget film to be released simultaneously in theaters and on CJ ENM’s own OTT streaming service, TVING. CJ ENM is reportedly now looking to replicate Seobok‘s success with the other delayed films in their lineup.
Midnight, starring Jin Ki-joo (Little Forest) and Wi Ha-joon (Girl Cops), is a thriller revolving around the hearing-impaired Kyung-mi (Jin Ki-joo), who works as a sign language counselor at a call center. One night, she bumps into Do-shik (Wi Ha-joon), a serial killer on the prowl in the streets of Seoul. Midnight finished filming in the end of 2019 and was slated for release in the first half of 2020 before getting pushed back due to the pandemic. Currently, its release date depends on whether it gets invited to this year’s Cannes Film Festival.
Another film awaiting release is Ji Chang-wook‘s (Fabricated City) film Punishment (also known as Restricted Call). It is an action film revolving around a father (Jo Woo-jin, Seobok) and daughter’s (Lee Jae-in, The Battle: Roar to Victory) unpredictable drive aboard a bomb-rigged car. The film marks the directorial debut of Kim Chang-joo, who served as editorial director for hits like Snowpiercer (2013) and The Terror Live (2013). It is expected to be released this summer.
CJ ENM’s new release method is being touted as an important turning point in the South Korean film industry—a trend many more production companies are expected to follow.