[VIEWPOINT]No use trying to revive a dead 'Cat'The movie "Take Care of My Cat" has been praised by critics as a good and decent movie. The public, however, seems to have thought otherwise. Earnest entreaties followed, calling for the movie's revival on the grounds that, though unpopular at the box office, it is a good movie.
The success of Korean movies has recently been on the rise, though some say that it is a temporary bubble that will not last long.
One reason "good" movies fall foul of public favor is that the magnitude and content of the movies do not always correspond. The gangster movies that are thought to degrade the overall Korean movie quality, surprisingly, have enthralled audiences. Movies that are thought to be "good," on the other hand, have attracted small numbers of moviegoers.
Appeals to revive "Take Care of My Cat" reflect this phenomenon. The movie "Waikiki Brothers" is trying something similar. Its producers are renting a cinema hall to continue screening the film. There are even suggestions that a "minimum number of screening dates" should be adopted or that exclusive art-movie theaters should be created.
These arguments should be considered carefully. They are in danger of distorting the value of a film by "forcing" on moviegoers a choice outside their own taste. That would eventually depreciate the overall quality of the Korean movie industry.
We should avoid indulging in the cultural chauvinism of claiming that anything necessary for the film industry should be supported by government policy and that at whatever cost Korean movies, especially Korean art-movies, should be saved.
Just as film directors or producers have the liberty to choose the movies they want to make, so do moviegoers have the exclusive right to select the movies they want to enjoy. Moviegoers are the ones who bring forth newly born movie stars.
Audience taste changes from time to time. Comedies or action movies suit the taste of audiences at the moment, but sooner or later different styles of movies will supplant them and the cycle will continue. In the past when romantic movies prevailed, critics thought that other movie genres had faded away, but when action movies started to gain audience favor the movie producers had to face the challenge. Gangster movies are also a fleeting phenomenon. The success or failure of a movie entirely depends on the audience's preference and choice.
Whether "Take Care of My Cat" or "Waikiki Brothers" are good movies is merely a subjective opinion. The evaluation of a movie changes over time. A movie can be differently viewed by different people, and whether it will hit blockbuster status is up to the viewer's. A good movie can lose support because it is not interesting enough to draw people or because it is seen as opposed to the public interest or for other reasons.
Hardly anybody doubts the artistic quality of the prize-winning movies at famous film festivals. There are many prize-winners at Venice or Berlin, but only a few of them succeed in the marketplace. Have the film-festival masterpieces been well supported at the expense of American entertainment movies?
Unfortunately, the actual world doesn't seem to follow ideal patterns. The perspectives of the viewers and the film critics differ dramatically. When audiences don't like movies, no matter how much the critics disseminate their seductive words through the media, movie producers should admit their failure.
The fact that a certain film's run is artificially prolonged by purchasing a whole theater to show works of quality reflects an arrogant attempt to enforce subjective standards or even to rewrite the record books through inflated sales.
Such acts show a disposition that it is necessary to transform the situation, whether through education or money, out of pity that the ignorant public lacks the eye to understand quality movies and only relishes lowly amusement films.
We can go as far as to suggest that there might be demonstrations against those people who enjoy "bad movies."
The growth of the Korean film industry is attributable to the efforts of those in the business combined with the support of moviegoers. Any problems should no doubt be settled by both constituents of the movie industry.
The supply and demand of the movie industry market should not be distorted by artificial acts of the market players. An equilibrium is set by the two natural forces that try to maximize their utilities.
A dead cat cannot be resuscitated. For such is the free market principle and reality behind the motion-picture business.
The writer is a movie critic and a professor of cinema studies at Sangmyung University.
by Cho Hee-moon