By Kim Boram
SEOUL, May 10 (Yonhap) — Tving, an online video streaming platform run by South Korea’s entertainment giant CJ ENM, has emerged as a new option for South Korean movies seeking on-demand releases after a sluggish theatrical run amid the yearlong pandemic.
For the past year, the Korean film industry, which was hit hard by the pandemic, has had to adjust its traditional theatrical release strategies to straight-to-video on demand (VOD) releases or hybrid theater-and-digital releases.
Many big-name blockbusters have chosen the first track in collaboration with the U.S. streaming giant Netflix, which has been enjoying a sharp rise in subscribers in the country in recent years.
“Time to Hunt,” an action thriller directed by Yoon Sung-hyun, was the first Korean film to be directly shown on Netflix last year.
Since then, several more Korean films, including the science-fiction blockbuster “Space Sweepers” and the action thriller “Night in Paradise,” have gone directly to Netflix without a theatrical run.
In 2021, Tving has paved another way for Korean film studios and distributors to release their films in theaters and on digital streaming at the same time.
The science-fiction action blockbuster “Seobok,” produced and distributed by CJ ENM, was released simultaneously in theaters and via Tving in April.
It had been one of the most anticipated blockbusters in South Korea since last year due to its subject of the first human clone and to its starring of two Korean heartthrobs, Gong Yoo and Park Bo-gum.
After months of delays due to the protracted COVID-19 pandemic, the expensive title with a 16 billion-won (US$14.2 million) budget became the first Korean film distributed by a major film company to take the two-track approach.
The number of people who saw “Seobok” in movie theaters reached 385,000 during its 18-day theatrical run from April 15-May 2. It became the second most-viewed homegrown film in 2021, following the action comedy “Mission: Possible,” which was seen by 444,000 moviegoers.
On Tving, the film had been atop the popular movie chart for its first two weeks, according to CJ ENM.
The upcoming drama film “Happy New Year,” starring Han Ji-min and Lee Dong-wook, will also follow the footsteps of “Seobok.”
Moreover, the historical drama “The Book of Fish” will be released exclusively on Tving on May 20, three weeks after it became available for paid VOD services on the internet and internet protocol TVs on April 28.
The black-and-white film about an elite bureaucrat and scholar named Yak-jeon and his young friend Chang-dae has attracted 336,000 moviegoers since its theatrical release on March 31.