The Host, King and the Clown to Compete Overseas

The Host and King and the Clown — the two most popular movies in Korea this year — have emerged as rivals in Korean, Japanese and American box-offices.

Last weekend, The Host broke the box-office record of King and the Clown, and now the two movies are poised to compete at the Academy Awards slated for February next year in the United States in the category of foreign-language films.

The production companies of the two films have already decided to apply for the nomination. The CEO of the production firm of The Host says he believes that the jury will take into account the film’s popularity abroad.

The Korean Film Council will receive applications until September 7 and then set up a jury comprising foreign members to choose domestic films for the next Academy Awards by the middle of this month. The final list of candidates will be sent to the awards organizers by October 1.

Attention is already being focused on which of the two movies, both which have created sensations this year, will represent Korea at the next Academy Awards. Both The Host and King and the Clown have received high praise from Japanese viewers after opening in Japan. The Host, which opened in Japan September 2, topped the
ticket-booking charts of Japanese theaters. King and the Clown, which is due to open in Japan in November, is now being promoted by one of its lead actors, Lee Jun-ki, who gained popularity in Japan for his role in the movie Hotel Venus.

But while Japanese viewers are accustomed to monster movies, they typically have less understanding about Korean epic films. Nonetheless, both films have proven effective in universally appealing to people’s emotions.

The Host and King and the Clown will open in the United States early next year if North American audiences show interest in the two Korean blockbusters after their participation in the Toronto Film Festival, to which they have both been invited.

A person from CJ Entertainment, the distributor of King and the Clown, said the film was originally slated to open in North America this year but that plan was postponed to early next year.

The Host will open in the North American market in February.

The two films’ debut in the United States next year will likely pave the way for their advancement to the main competition of the Academy Awards in the foreign-language film category. So far, no Korea film has been nominated for the category.
Source: KBS Global

doozy: Wow, The Host is breaking records in Korean Cinema history in such a short amount of time. I’ve read a lot of good things about this film so I really look forward to watching it. Regarding The King and the Clown opening in the US, I have mixed feelings about it. On the one hand, it’s great for this terrific movie, specifically, and Korean cinema, in general, to gain international recognition. On the other hand, the American movie-goers have different (read: strange) tastes in what they like so they may not enjoy and appreciate the subtleties of The King and the Clown. In any case, I wish both films the best of success!

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The Host

Monster Film Success Soothes S. Korea’s Worried Cinema Industry

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A rare monster film is blazing a trail in South Korea’s cinema history, drawing record audiences and bolstering a local movie industry being weaned from decades of a protective screen quota.

The Host, directed by a daring 37-year-old producer Bong Jun-Ho, pulled in eight million viewers as of Friday last week after it was released 16 days earlier at 620 cinemas across South Korea, according to the film’s distributor, Showbox.

The film slashed nine days off the previous record time to pull in eight million viewers which was set by Taegukgi, a 2004 big-budget domestic film featuring two brothers whose lives were ravaged by the Korean War.

When director Bong announced plans for the monster film, his third release, his colleagues were “shocked and dismayed,” he said.

Bong, who shot to fame in 2003 with Memories of Murder, a feature about the unsolved case of a serial killer in 1986, was considered by some to be selling out his art-house roots.

“I don’t care whether my film should be an art movie or a commercial movie. I just make a film because I want to see it myself as a viewer and because others don’t make it for me to see,” Bong told journalists.

The Host revolves around an ordinary family who are forced to struggle against great odds and non-cooperative bureaucrats to rescue their daughter, kidnapped by a monster living in the Han River that flows across Seoul.

Starring Song Kang-Ho, who played the leading role as an eager but hapless detective in Memories of Murder, The Host is a far cry from Hollywood monster films in terms of budget and spectacle. But its solid storytelling, blended with director Bong’s particular brand of humor and satire, has proved its main draw.

The film has no obvious hero, focusing on weak individuals struggling against formidable odds to rescue their loved one from the monster. This creature, which never overwhelms the screen in a way such as other monsters such as Godzilla, is a mutant spawned by toxic waste released from a US military morgue here.

Bong said he got the idea from a 2000 incident in which US military officers released toxic waste into the river, sparking anger and stoking anti-US sentiment.

But he denied the film was intended to deliver anti-US or environmentalist messages.

“I wanted to make a different monster film which has no superhero but weak and ordinary people struggling to protect those who are weaker than themselves,” Bong said.

The Host received favourable reviews at the Cannes Film Festival in May and has been exported to 11 countries including the United States as well as elsewhere in Asia and Europe.

So Jung-Hyun, a 29-year-old math teacher, said she was moved by the film, which she said had broken new ground for local films.

“I was overcome with family love there. I’ve never seen a film like this. My brother also saw it the day after I saw it,” she said.

But other viewers said they were disappointed.

“I was disappointed. The format was not so thrilling and computer graphics were flawed,” said a 22-year-old biology student as he and his girlfriend were leaving a cinema in downtown Seoul.

“I think the film’s box office success was largely due to the tendency of South Korean viewers who blindly follow the crowd, relying only on mass opinions,” said the student, as his girlfriend, locking arms with him, nodded her consent. (Agence France Presse)
Source: The Seoul Times