South Korean Theaters Refuse to Show Bong Joon-Ho's 'Okja'

Wednesday, 07 June 2017 - 1:47PM
Okja
Netflix
Wednesday, 07 June 2017 - 1:47PM
South Korean Theaters Refuse to Show Bong Joon-Ho's 'Okja'
Considering that Okja, the Cannes-selected science fiction movie about environmental ethics and animal cruelty, comes from acclaimed South Korean director Bong Joon-Ho, you might be forgiven for assuming that South Korean movie theaters would jump at the chance to give the film special treatment, highlighting the cultural impact that the small country has around the world.

If you did assume this, you'd be very, very wrong. Instead, many of Korea's largest theater chains are refusing to show Okja at all.

CJ CGV, Lotte Cinema and Megabo, which comprise over half of all movie theaters in Korea, have announced that they will not be showing Okja at the time of its release—although, depending on popularity, some chains may be willing to play the movie at a far later date.



The issue here is not a new one for Okja. As a Netflix production, Okja will naturally be made available on the streaming service from the day of its release, meaning that audiences in the United States, United Kingdom, and South Korea will have the choice between viewing the movie on the big screen, or on a tablet while curled up at home.

At the Cannes film festival, members of the movie community (including the head of the judging committee) made it very clear that they are opposed to the challenge that Okja poses to the movie industry as a whole, since letting streaming services compete with cinemas is probably not going to end well for ticket sales. As such, Korean movie chains are requesting that Netflix delay the release of Okja on the streaming platform by at least three weeks, to give movie theaters a degree of exclusivity.

Netflix is not going to do this, because it's Netflix. There's no incentive to give movie theaters exclusivity, and as the streaming platform is already making enough money to fund Okja, with its all-star cast, it's clear that there's nothing wrong with the company's current business model. Honestly, perhaps the time for a Netflix movie revolution is overdue. If directors like Joon-Ho can't find funding or support in the current movie industry for insane, indie sci-fi like Okja (or would rather not tangle with the machinery of that world), more paths to viewers are better. Theaters just may not be one of them.
Science Fiction
Sci-Fi Movies
Okja
Netflix
No