Though Netflix’s next big movie, “Okja,” is getting high praise from critics, the movie isn’t getting any love from the major theater chains in its director’s home country.
Bong Joon-ho’s socially conscious movie about a massive pig and the girl who tries to save it from being slaughtered is going to be shut out of South Korea’s three largest theater chains (CJ CGV, Lotte Cinema, Megabox). That’s becuase of the streaming giant’s plan to release the movie in theaters and on streaming at the same time on June 29.
This means that the movie will not play on 93% of the country’s screens, according to Variety, in spite of the fact that it’s an international action movie in both English and Korean and featuring huge stars, including Jake Gyllenhaal and Tilda Swinton.
CJ CGV has stated that Netflix’s simultaneous release plan disturbs the distribution ecosystem in South Korea. It will only allow movies to be available to stream three weeks after a movie has its theatrical run. CJ CGV says the three-week delay is “an important business practice in Korea.”
This is on the heels of the negative reaction from some corners to “Okja” and another Netflix title, “The Meyerowitz Stories,” when they had their world premieres at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. Both titles currently don’t have plans to play theatrically in France. This led to the festival changing its rules, making it a requirement that all movies in competition at the festival must have a French release in place.
“Okja,” which is being released theatrically in South Korea through Next Entertainment World, will negotiate with independent theaters to show the movie.
This is not the first time Netflix has butted heads with exhibitors.
Most of the major theater chains in the United States refused to show Netflix’s “Beasts of No Nation” in 2015 because it did not adhere to the 90-day exclusive theatrical window. A year later, only a few IMAX screens showed Netflix’s “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny” because it was likewise released theatrically and streamed simultaneously.
Expect the same at most US theaters when “Okja” and “The Meyerowitz Stories” open.