Due to COVID-19 the South Korean film market has been in a strange place over the last couple of months. With no new releases of any kind theaters have cut hours and resorted to rereleasing old popular movies, with predictably anemic results. But with the release of "Search Out" on April 15th, distributors are starting to show confidence when it comes to at least scheduling minor film releases.
"Search Out" is a low budget thriller that was filmed in 2017 and has lingered without release since then. It had no real expectations for a theatrical release and was only offered in order to gain distribution into the on demand market. CGV theaters have not even been screening "Search Out", locking it out of a third of the available venues in South Korea.
Nevertheless, the independent film topped the South Korean box office on April 15th with 5000 admissions even as it had almost no promotion or even much in the usually predictive metric of online reservations. But even more then independent distributors had already started scheduling press screenings for their own generally low expectation movies that are unlikely to face any serious competition in the face of COVID-19.
Interestingly, these are also shaping up to be in-person screenings as opposed to the virtual ones that had become commonplace after the start of the epidemic. The Catholic biographical film "Beyond That Mountain" is holding a press conference on April 20th ahead of its April 30th release. The horror movie "Hotel Lake" will have an April 22nd screening ahead of its April 29th release, and "The Shooting Girls" will have an April 24th screening ahead of its May 6th release.
These increases are likely also related to the South Korean government lifting its order against gatherings of fifty or more people on April 19th. "Ghost Ship" had also held a press screening last week, although attendance fell far below that threshhold. It is unknown when mainstream movies originally set to release over the last two months may appear in theaters.
Written by William Schwartz
Staff writer. Has been writing articles for HanCinema since 2012, having lived in South Korea since 2011. Started out in Gyeongju, then to Daegu, then to Ansan, then to Yeongju, then to Seoul, lived on the road for HanCinema's travel diaries series in the summer of 2016, and is currently settled in Anyang. Has good tips for utilizing South Korea's public bus system. William Schwartz can be contacted via email@example.com.
"[HanCinema's News] New South Korean Movies Start Receiving Theatrical Releases"
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