'Running Man' is next Korean film to go international
In the midst of Koreans’ growing presence in Hollywood as directors and actors make their debuts there, “Running Man” by Cho Dong-oh is set to take up the baton.
The film about a man fleeing false murder charges is the first domestic movie to be fully funded by a major Hollywood studio, Fox International Productions.
“We were very impressed with the concept of trying to make a film that would be pushing the action quotient all done in a realistic way within Seoul itself,” said Sanford Panitch, head of the production company, during a press conference on Tuesday.
Panitch stressed that the Los Angeles-based company is looking to observe global film-making culture, unearth local talent and forge lucrative relationships with prominent film professionals outside of the world’s film capital.
In a testament to his expanding strategy, Fox International Productions has so far made financial commitments to 50 non-English-language films in more than 11 countries.
It also previously made partial investments in Korean hit “Hwanghae” and Park Chan-wook’s Hollywood debut film “Stoker.”
Cho said he thought that the U.S. company was impressed with the uniquely Korean sentiments expressed in the film and that he felt encouraged by their respect for a foreign culture.
“When I first met with Fox, I didn’t feel like I had to change the story just because we were receiving financial support,” he explained.
Protectionist measures implemented by the government initially stood in the way of the collaboration, Panitch said, but the company worked around the restrictions.
The Korean Film Council also helped to expedite the process. From 2007, the organization has offered tax rebates to foreign production companies that decided to invest in coproduction with Korean professionals.
“This movie is not only important for developing future business relationships with Hollywood, but also helpful for creating new job opportunities,” said Kim Eui-suk, chairman of the Korean Film Council. More than 430 people worked on the production of “Running Man” for about five months.
Panitch said that it was not until Park Chan-wook’s “Oldboy” that Hollywood grew more comfortable with movies in different settings told in unusual ways.
“I think that was the catalyst for any people in Hollywood to turn their eyes toward Korean films,” the CEO said.
After watching Bong Joon-ho’s “The Host” and Kim Ji-woon’s “The Good, The Bad, The Weird” with his colleagues, Panitch came to believe that there is a lot to learn from Korean cinema. He thinks that the emotions, styles and energy in Korean films are completely unique.
“At the same time, if we think there’s an opportunity for the film in the other parts of the world, we’ll certainly take advantage of that, including showing the film to U.S. audiences,” Panitch said.
The company also hopes to announce its support for a second Korean film soon.
“We have a number of projects in development in script stages and are working with some other, very talented directors,” Panitch said.
“Running Man” will hit theaters in April.
By Yoon Hye-sun, Park Eun-jee [firstname.lastname@example.org]