Netflix’s Okja has hit another stumbling block as the sci-fi drama looks set to be boycotted from South Korean director Bong Joon-ho’s home turf. According to the Korea Times, South Korea’s three largest exhibitors – CJ CGV, Lotte Cinema and Megabox – are poised to shut out the Tilda Swinton, Jake Gyllenhaal and Paul Dano starrer from its theatres ahead of Netflix’s planned day-and-date release in the U.S., UK and South Korea on June 29.
CGV, the largest exhibitor in the country which owns 139 out of 335 cinemas, said it would not screen the film in its theaters as doing so would damage the “distribution order” in the film industry. CGV has proposed that a Netflix-produced film should follow a three-week holdback period, allowing local theatres to preserve the ecosystem.
Lotte Cinema, South Korea’s second largest cinema chain, said it would only screen Okja on the condition that Netflix doesn’t release the film simultaneously on its platform and that it would only consider showing the film in theaters as a re-release at a later date if Netflix refused to budge on its no theatrical policy.
Meanwhile, Megabox, the country’s third largest theater group, has also weighed in on the issue, saying that it is against the simultaneous screening of a film that debuts on a SVOD platform at the same time. Korea Times says the exhibitor will “watch developments on the issue before reaching a final decision.” But the pic’s Korean distributor Next Entertainment World, has indicated that Netflix, which invested a reported $60M in the film, will not budge on its day-and-date stance.
This latest quarrel comes after last month’s debate in France, which saw French exhibitors up in arms at the fact the Cannes Film Festival selected Okja and Netflix’s The Meyerowitz Stories to compete for the coveted Palme d’Or. Contrastingly, France operates an arcane windows system that dictates that movies must wait three years after their theatrical release before hitting a streaming platform.