By Kim Si-gyun and Kim Hyo-jin
South Korea’s entertainment conglomerate CJ E&M is moving into Hollywood to make the first Korean attempt to produce and distribute movies in the heart of the motion picture industry.
Industry sources said Sunday the company is in talks with a number of American producers to jointly produce about 10 movies targeting the North American market. It plans to start with low-budget films and gradually work its way into mainstream blockbusters.
To this end, the company has reportedly reached out to famous Academy Award-winning directors and actors. The American remake of the thriller Hide and Seek and the Spanish version of the comedy-drama film Miss Granny plan to go into production this year, in collaboration with Hollywood producers and its Los Angeles staff at CJ America.
The company’s ambitious global campaign is said to be spearheaded by CJ Group Chairman Lee Jay-hyun, who returned to the helm last year on a government pardon after receiving a two-and-a-half-year sentence for tax evasion and embezzlement.
He reportedly told senior executives that to truly “go global,” it needs to go beyond “casting a couple of foreign actors in a (Korean) movie or exporting Korean films” and build a tight network in Hollywood by partnering with world-famous producers and directors.
CJ E&M will be renamed as CJ ENM next month after it completes the merger with its sister company CJ O Shopping, a major TV home shopping network operator under CJ Group. CJ E&M is credited for expanding the Korean movie market after it first introduced a multiplex cinema in the country. Since then, it has grown to become Korea’s entertainment giant producing a wide range of entertainment contents.