Korean leading actor? Check. Korean supporting cast? Check. Acclaimed Korean director? Check. The support of South Korea's movie theaters? Now that's one box Bong Joon-ho's Okja won't be ticking anytime soon.
Two of the biggest movie theatre chains in South Korea have announced a boycott on the upcoming film, refusing to screen it. This means that only 7% of the country's cinemas will be showing it at all.
So what's the reason for this mass boycott? Let's take a look:
It All Started In France
As devastating as this must be for the Snowpiercer director to face, this isn't the first time Okja has been met with critiques that have nothing to do with the film's merit. It was booed at this year's Cannes Film Festival, partially because it hasn't received a release date for French cinema. After all, you'd think a requirement for entry into the esteemed French film festival would be a French release— in fact, this very incident caused the festival to change its rules to reflect this.
But the main reason for the criticism against Okja in both France and South Korea is due to its distribution through online streaming service #Netflix. According to IndieWire, the film will be released through both Netflix's service and cinemas on the same day.
While there's no doubt that some people would much prefer to see this epic action adventure film on the big screen, the ability to access Okja online for much less money will most likely cost theaters a few ticket sales. This also violates South Korea's strict regulations on the mandatory time between theater screenings and online streaming availability.
Normally, Okja would have been screened in South Korean cinemas for three weeks before its Netflix release. However, the nature of the "Netflix original" procedures means that the movie must be available through Netflix much earlier.
Due to the boycott, one of the country's biggest films of the year might only be screened at independent cinemas rather than large chains— which might just mean even less revenue for South Korea's cinema industry.
What do you think of South Korea's Okja boycott?
(Source: Indie Wire)