93% of South Korean Theaters Reject Bong Joon-ho’s ‘Okja’ Over Netflix Controversy
Bong Joon-ho’s latest just can’t catch a break. After surviving Cannes while plagued by talk of the scandal brewing between Netflix and French theater chains, 93% of theaters in Bong’s home country have announced they won’t be screening Okja because of Netflix’s same-day release plan.
Variety reports that Lotte Cinema and Megabox, South Korea’s second- and third-largest theater chains, have followed CJ CGV, the largest, in their decision not to screen the film. Netflix’s plan for Okja’s theatrical release would see the movie hitting theaters on the same day as it becomes available to stream online, a movie that violates South Korea’s three week buffer policy between when a film leaves theaters and hits the Internet.
The hubbub began at Cannes, when a number of French theater chains had the same issue with Netflix’s day-and-date release strategy. Two Netflix films premiering at the festival, Okja and Noah Baumbach’s The Meyerowitz Stories, had no French theatrical releases planned before they became available on the streaming platform. The outrage on the part of theater owners prompted Cannes to change their rules: as of next year, no film without a French theatrical release will be allowed to screen in competition.
The major theater chains in South Korea take their three week window rule seriously, saying that it’s “an important business practice in Korea.” Okja still has a planned release date of June 29, the day after it becomes available on Netflix June 28, in theaters in America, the U.K., and however many South Korean theaters have decided to show it.