On July 26th, the Korean film “The Battleship Island”, had a record-breaking premier. Almost a million tickets were sold on the opening day, the highest number in Korean cinema history. However, the movie has also sparked controversy because it is monopolizing screens throughout theaters.
There were about 2000 out of 2758 movie screens in the whole country that played “The Battleship Island” on the first day, also the largest figure in Korean cinema history. Director Ryu Seung Wan and production company CJ were hugely criticized due to the fact that the movie seriously violated the audience’s right to choose which movie they want to watch in a certain time. The movie was played in a single theatre more frequently than a Seoul subway runs.
Considering the fact that the purpose of the existence of multiplex theatres is to provide many movie screens in order to satisfy the many different preferences of audiences, the fact that one particular movie, not varied movies, has an absolute majority of screens, seems to be largely problematic.
This phenomenon is closely related to the Korean film industry, which is run by a few major companies, including CJ E&M Film Division, formerly known as CJ Entertainment. CJ E&M Film Division is a Korean entertainment company that involves in film production, investment, distribution and exhibition. It is a very exceptional case that a single entertainment company is able to carry out all four major process of creating and playing films. The fact that CGV, the largest movie theatre in Korea, is owned by CJ as well, makes the film industry even more monolithic.
Munsun Kim, an 11th grade movie enthusiast, recently revealed his frustration of not being able to watch films other than “The Battleship Island” that he had been waiting for. “I tried to watch either ‘Dunkirk’ or ‘Maudie, My Love’ on the weekend with my family, but I couldn’t because they were only being shown early in the morning or late at night. Every other time was ‘The Battleship Island,” Kim said.
Jun Sung Kwon, another student who enjoys watching movies, pointed out that “in Hollywood, different companies are in charge of doing production and distribution. It is nonsense that a single company like CJ and Lotte is doing everything in the Korean film industry. The system that is solely based on the major companies should be changed as soon as possible”.