Even after the social distancing was lifted in April this year, some new movies are going straight to OTT (online video service) as theaters continue to stagnate.
“The Match” (directed by Kim Hyung-joo) starring Lee Byung Hun and Yoo Ah In will be released on Netflix without going through theaters. “The Match”, which is based on two real-life notable Go players Cho Hun Hyun and Lee Chang Ho, finished filming in April last year and prepared for a theatrical release, but turned to OTT. The production team is currently coordinating details with Netflix.
“Stolen Identity” (directed by Kim Tae Joon, invested and distributed by CJ ENM) also chose Netflix instead of theaters. CJ ENM said “It’s in the discussion stage”, but Netflix recently received a rating classification of 15+ from the Korea Media Rating Board. Based on the Japanese novel of the same name, “Stolen Identity” starring Im Si Wan and Chun Woo Hee finished filming in June last year. It is a thriller about an office worker whose daily life is threatened after losing her smartphone containing all personal information.
Some movies go straight to Netflix because of the recent theater situation, which shows little sign of recovery. In May~June, right after the social distancing was lifted, theater districts seemed to normalize again as “The Roundup” and “Top Gun: Maverick” achieved good results, but the sluggishness of summer blockbusters and the increase in movie ticket prices drove the downturn again. In fact, the number of theatergoers in October is only 6.19 million (Korean Film Council’s integrated computer network for movie theater admissions), less than half of 14.85 million in 2019, before the epidemic. The anticipated movie “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever”, which was released on Nov 9th, only attracted 1 million people in the first week.
With the audience’s consumer sentiment shrinking, the release period of existing screening works through the secondary supplementary copyright market has also become shorter. In the case of this summer’s top box office hits “Hansan: Rising Dragon” and “Emergency Declaration“, they were released through OTT Coupang Play in September, a month after their release. In particular, these two works skipped IPTV and VOD services and unusually headed to OTT at the same time as their theater screening. A film official said, “There’s a pile of movies that haven’t been released in the past two years due to COVID-19. Release through OTT, including Netflix, is the best alternative plan.“