10 million viewers bitter amidst monopoly controversy… ‘Screen cap system’ fire in Crime City 4 – Seoul Newspaper VRESP

33rd domestically released film to reach 10 million
80% screen share in the first week of release
Criticism of the film industry: “You can do too much”
Call for discussion on ways to support independent films

▲ Cumulative number of domestic film audiences of 10 million – Page 8

The movie ‘Crime City 4’ starring Ma Dong-seok surpassed the ‘bittersweet 10 million viewers’ mark amid controversy over screen monopoly. Even in the film industry, criticism is being raised that “it is too much to do,” and it is being pointed out that a ‘screen cap’ should be discussed.

According to the integrated movie theater ticket network, ‘Crime City 4’ surpassed 10 million viewers on the morning of the 15th, the 22nd day of its release, becoming the 33rd domestically released film to reach 10 million viewers. Except for the first film, all three films exceeded 10 million viewers, and among domestic releases, the Hollywood film ‘Avengers’ is the only series to have three films with 10 million viewers.

When it was released on the 24th of last month, it attracted about 820,000 people, and has been a huge success, exceeding 5 million people for the past week. However, behind this box office success, there was a screen monopoly. As the screening share of multiplex theaters such as CGV, Lotte Cinema, and Megabox exceeded 80% in the first week of release, other films were unable to reach audiences properly.

At the ‘Debate for the Restoration of the Korean Film Ecosystem’ held during the Jeonju International Film Festival, film groups openly criticized the screen monopoly of ‘Crime City 4’. Lee Ha-young, CEO of the production company Haha Films, raised his voice, saying, “This is the result of movie theaters competing with each other to attract audiences,” and “It is ruining the film industry.”

The issue of screen monopoly arose in 2006 when director Bong Joon-ho’s film ‘The Host’ occupied 620 theaters, or more than 30% of all screens. Since then, several bills have been proposed in the National Assembly, starting with a bill that prohibits a film from occupying more than a certain percentage and imposes fines for violations. The screen cap system, which limits the number of screens in theaters for one movie or places a cap on all theaters, is discussed first. These include the ‘variable rate system’, which fixes the screening rate at the beginning and increases it over time after release, and provides incentives for independent and art films. However, it failed to pass the National Assembly due to controversy over whether it violated the Fair Trade Act and the Korea-US Free Trade Agreement (FTA).

Film critic Yoon Seong-eun said, “There is a problem not only with movie theaters trying to maximize profits, but also with distributors who deliberately avoided competition in order to take advantage of the release of ‘Crime City 4.’” Jeon Yeong-moon, head of the Fair Environment Center at the Korean Film Council, said, “It is not easy to legislate the screen cap system due to the ‘vertical integration’ problem where large companies own both distributors and theaters.” “We need to discuss together whether to go or not,” he said.

Reporter Kim Ki-joong

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