[EDITORIALS]Film industry at a crossroads

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[EDITORIALS]Film industry at a crossroads

“The power of stars” and “the power of producers” have finally collided with each other. Film director Kang Woo-suk mentioned the names of actors, including Choi Min-sik and Song Gang-ho, when he criticized film actors who fortified power around them like political heavyweights. Now, the two actors demand that Mr. Kang apologize officially. The conflict between film producers and actors’ managers is getting serious.
The Korean film industry is in a renaissance now. Korean film directors have swept the best director’s awards at three major international film festivals ― Cannes, Venice and Berlin. They even accomplished the rare coup of garnering awards at two major international film festivals simultaneously.
Since Korean audiences’ standards are highly regarded, some Hollywood producers are said to have weighed the reaction of the Korean market in deciding whether their films would be successful internationally. Korea’s film industry has many favorable conditions for success, but it fails to enjoy this golden opportunity.
We think the conflict within the film industry is caused by the crisis psychology prevailing in it recently. Despite outward appearances, the film industry is not that healthy and sound. The industry itself recorded a profit of 8 percent in 2002 and 6 percent in 2003, but production companies suffered from consecutive deficits of 9.7 percent in 2002 and 8.8 percent in 2003. The average production cost has jumped from 1 billion won ($1 million) in 1996 to 4.2 billion won in 2004. After 2002, when costs rose sharply, the number of productions stopped growing, showing that production costs have reached their limit.
Facing reality and finding a solution are the common tasks of people in the film industry. Film stars and their managers must reflect on whether their demands are excessive. The producers must reflect on whether management is transparent and their staffs are given fair treatment.
It is fortunate that the two actors and their managers sympathize with some of the resolutions adopted by the association of producers. They must use this as an opportunity to prepare a plan for the development of the film industry. Instead of trying to increase their own income, they must find an answer on how to improve the quality of Korean films.
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