CJ E&M aims to make 20 localized films overseas annually by 2020
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By Shim Sun-ah
SEOUL, Sept. 13 (Yonhap) -- CJ E&M, the media and entertainment unit of conglomerate CJ, said Wednesday that it will increase the annual number of localized versions of its movies released in overseas markets to 20 by 2020.
It also presented a vision for becoming a "global film studio" that makes films in more than 10 languages, during a press conference at a Seoul hotel.
CJ E&M produced nine localized versions of Korean films last year. It invests in or distributes over 10 to 15 Korean films at home.
Jeong Tae-sung, head of CJ E&M's film division, said as the local market is already saturated, his company is now planning to shift its weight to the global market.
Jeong Tae-sung, head of CJ E&M's film division, speaks during a media presentation on the company's global market strategy at a hotel in central Seoul on Sept. 13, 2017. (Yonhap)
The film division has struggled in the local market in recent years, posting a deficit of 13.6 billion won (US$12 million) in the fourth quarter of last year. It turned to a surplus in the first quarter of this year but recorded an operating loss of 1.6 billion won in the second quarter. The production cost per movie is soaring to some 10 billion won but only a few films have exceeded the break-even point.
"The success of CJ E&M in overseas markets will be a test for measuring if the stagnant domestic film industry will be able to make its second leap forward," said Jeong who has led the company's film division since June 2012.
He said the company has learned the best way to reach foreign audiences is producing localized versions of homegrown films than selling remake rights or exporting hit Korean-language movies with subtitles in foreign languages.
"Hollywood movies with global distribution networks do not have cultural barriers anywhere in the world, but it is not easy for Korean films to overcome language and cultural barriers when they are exported in their original form," he said. "The sale of remake rights seldom leads to the actual production of remakes and the Chinese formula of purchasing major theater chains and production companies with capital strength cannot be our model."
Making full use of the "creativeness" of the Korean film industry and producing various localized editions of Korean movies can produce the highest added values and provide a broader opportunity for local creators, he stressed.
Under such a strategy, CJ E&M has produced 23 such films in six countries -- the United States, China, Japan, Vietnam, Indonesia and Thailand -- over the past decade, beginning with "August Rush," a South Korea-U.S. co-produced film in 2007.
The most successful known case of localization is CJ Entertainment's 2013 comedy release "Miss Granny."
The film has been remade in China, Vietnam, Japan, Thailand and Indonesia, and earned 78 billion won in overseas markets, according to CJ E&M. English. Spanish and Turkish editions of the same Korean film are also ready for production.
In addition, the 2011 South Korean box-office hit "Sunny" began shooting in Vietnam earlier this month, while "Spellbound" (2011) and "Spy" (2015) are also among the CJ Entertainment films in preparation to be made into localized versions.