By Kim Si-gyun
CJ E&M Corp., the media and entertainment arm of South Korean conglomerate CJ, aims to more than double the number of movies targeted toward overseas markets by 2020.
The country's largest film distributor said Wednesday that it plans to produce 20 films a year for the foreign audience by 2020. It made nine films for the international audience last year. It turns out 10 to 15 movies a year for local screens.
"The movie market in Korea is saturated," said Jeong Tae-sung, head of the film division at CJ E&M. "Our success in the global market will be a yardstick in determining whether Korea's stagnant movie industry can enjoy renewed growth."
The best way to target the foreign market is not through exports of Korean movies but through locally produced films, Jeong said.
"Exports of Korean films have trouble overcoming language and cultural barriers," said Jeong. Producing localized versions of Korean movies, which are known for their creativity, carry a higher added value, he added.
The most successful example is the 2014 comedy "Miss Granny." The film was remade in China, Vietnam, Japan, Thailand and Indonesia under the name "20 Once Again" and raked in 78 billion won ($69.1 million) overseas. Exports of the original film and sale of remake rights generated only 400 million won.
CJ E&M has produced 23 such films over the past ten years in the U.S., China, Japan, Vietnam, Indonesia and Thailand, starting with the 2007 release "August Rush," its first international co-production with the U.S.
The company has also ventured into Turkey, Mexico, Russia and India. In May, it set up a local entity in Turkey and is awaiting the release of "Hot Sweet & Sour," a joint production between the two countries, this winter.