The Covid-19 pandemic may be far from over all around the globe, but one part of life here in Korea which is slowly retuning to some form of normality is the film industry.
Local films started returning in June and last week, the highly anticipated film PENINSULA, a sequel to the hit TRAIN TO BUSAN, had a successful launch.
Arirang's favorite film critic Pierce Conran is in the studio.
Hi there Pierce.
Speaking of THE PENINSULA, I think we saw caught quite a familiar face on the silver screen.
Tell us. How did that happen? What was it like to be in front of the camera acting as opposed to being behind the camera as a critic and director all this time?
Are audiences well and truly back in cinemas?
-Best launch of Covid Era, besting already impressive launch of #ALIVE by 70%.
-Close to 2.3 million viewers after 9 days.
-However, signifcantly below debut of TRAIN TO BUSAN.
-Seating is limited, not everyone is ready to return.
-Opening was about as strong as could be expected in current climate
What sort of precautions are theaters taking at this point? Do you believe going to the cinema is safe at this point?
-People should exercise their own judgement, everyone's comfort level is different
-Limited seating, social distancing, disinfecting facilities and antibacterial film over elevator buttons
-Also highly advance ventilation system, strict guidelines
-Everyone wears masks, faces forward
-To date, no cinema have been identified as infection vectors.
Recently the government announced that they would be making August 17 a temporary holiday, turning Liberation Day into a 3-day weekend. Will viewers have something to look forward around then?
-Peninsula won't last until then, poor audience reaction
-The scheduled summer blockbusters all moved off their dates. Including HERO, MOGADISHU and SPACE SWEEPERS
-However, after a relatively successful relaunch of cinemas from early June to mid-July, studios have scheduled alternative major films
The next big film after Peninsula appears to be Steel Rain: Summit, out next week. What can you tell us about this one, is it a sequel to Steel Rain from a few years ago?
-Sequel of sorts. Same director YANG Woo-suk, and cast JUNG Woo-sung and KWAK Do-won, but playing new characters
-First STEEL RAIN was a hit just before Xmas in 2017.
-JUNG plays SK president, who meets US and NK leaders for peace summit. At this team, a coup take place in the North led by a commander played by KWAK. Summit members are kidnapped and held on nuclear submarine
-JUNG and KWAK essentially swap roles (North and South, Yoo Yeon-seok and Scottish acts Angus Macfadyen join
Speaking of reuniting male stars, there's another big team-up coming in August. Is DELIVER US FROM EVIL something to look out for?
-Colorful, gun-toting action-thriller shot in location in sun-drenched Thailand. HWANG Jung-min and LEE Jung-jae join forces again after NEW WORLD
-HWANG plays an assassin who heads to Thailand after his last job because a kidnapping that is related to him somehow. Following him there is the brother of someone he killed, who is out for re-venge, played by LEE.
-2nd film from director of the thriller OFFICE, which screened at Cannes. Cinematopgrahy by Hong Kyung-pyo, known for PARASITE, other Bong Joon-ho films, BURNING and THE WAILING.
Of course not everyone is looking for a macho action-drama, but I believe there's also some counter-programming on the way in the form of the comedy OKAY MADAM.
-Wouldn't be summer without a comedy somewhere
-Singer-star UHM Jeong-hwa leads the cast, with
-She plays a woman who runs a traditional snack shop and her husband (PARK Sung-woong) is a computer repairman who wins a free trip to Hawaii. Excited for their first international trip they board the plane, but little do they know that terrorists are also on board.
-Veteran director Lee Cheolp-ha (LOVE ME NOT, INSANE) and production house Sanai Pictures (NEW WORLD, VIOLENT PROSECUTOR, THE TIGER)
-High-concept, largely single location comedy
Sounds like there'll be a decent selection of Korean films to watch over the next few weeks, but it looks like Hollywood will not be back in action anytime soon?
Disney just pulled "Mulan" off the August release calendar Paramount followed with an even bolder move today.
-Small titles are still appearing here and there but still the only thing with a fixed date is Christopher Nolan's TENET
-Date remains August 12, but since that date has been abandoned in America we can expect the same here soon enough
-However, Warner Bros has been paying attention to foreign markets that have successfully reo-pened, like Korea, and is apparently considering staggering the launch, so could open elsewhere before US
-Rumor has is it could launch in some Asian market by late August
-Mulan is also a possibility with the same strategy, especially since Chinese cinemas started coming back online this week.
Thanks as always Pierce for a great wrap up of the film scene. We appreciate it.