Lee Je-hoon’s ‘Time to Hunt’ gets new release date on Netflix after legal dispute

Time to Hunt will finally have its global premiere on Netflix on April 23, after a Korean court halted its original release schedule earlier this month due to a contract dispute between its production company and foreign sales distributor.

The dystopian thriller stars Lee Je-hoon (I Can Speak Now), Ahn Jae-hong (Fight For My Way), Choi Woo-shik (Parasite), and Park Jung-min (Start-Up) as poverty-stricken individuals who attempt a heist to escape from their dire situation, only to end up being hunted by a vicious criminal, played by Park Hae-Soo (Persona).

Time To Hunt Poster (film)

The film premiered at the 70th Berlin International Film Festival on February 22, becoming the first Korean film to be screened in the Berlinale Special section. It was scheduled for a theater release in Korea on February 26, which got postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

As a result, the film’s distributor, Little Big Pictures, announced on March 23 announced its decision to premiere the film on streaming giant Netflix on April 10. However, the film suffered another delay following a legal complaint filed by Contents Panda over international distribution rights, citing breach of contract as it had already signed deals in more than 30 countries.

Little Big Pictures contracted Contents Panda last year to distribute the film internationally, making the latter’s claims of contract breach valid. But with the onslaught of the pandemic emptying Korean theaters, Little Big Pictures decided to terminate the said contract due to unforeseen circumstances. 

The Seoul Central District Court on April 9 ruled in favor of Contents Panda, which meant that the film could not be shown internationally on Netflix or any other streaming service.

“We brought legal suit when due process was not accepted [by Little Big Pictures],” said Contents Panda representative. “This ruling recognizes that Contents Panda fulfilled its duties according to legal process. We have recovered the right to discussions with overseas distributors and we will produce good results within the legal ruling.”

Eventually, the two companies reached an agreement after a period of negotiations. Little Big Pictures issued a statement of apology to fans and Contents Panda. “Due to the impractical progress, we unilaterally notified Contents Panda of the termination of contracts while ignoring its contribution to overseas sales over a year,” the statement said. “We respect the court’s decision and apologize to Contents Panda for causing frustration.”

Contents Panda also released a statement to reaffirm the concluded dispute. “After renegotiating with overseas buyers, we have reached an agreement with Little Big Pictures to withdraw the injunction and make sure there is no problem to release ‘Time to Hunt’ through Netflix.”

Time To Hunt is the second full-length film of Yoon Sung-hyun, the award-winning director of the 2011 mystery film Bleak Night that also featured Lee Je-hoon and Park Jung-min.

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It was Princess Lulu who first introduced her to Korean dramas but it was Yoon Ji-hoo from Boys Over Flowers who enticed her to stay in K-dramaland. She writes news and features for Kdramapal, which combines two of her most favorite things in the world—writing and K-dramas (look who's living the dream). The name Luna literally translates to "moon" and nothing special; she just likes writing at night.