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Cabinet endorses plan to halve screen quota

Korea Times

Cabinet Endorses Plan to Halve Screen Quota

By Jung Sung-ki, Staff Reporter

7 March 2006

A controversial plan reducing the country’s screen quota by half has been approved by the government amid fierce protests from the film industry.

The change becomes effective July 1.

Under the revised Enforcement of Ordinance to the Film Promotion Act approved by the Cabinet Tuesday, the number of days a theater is required to show domestic films is to be reduced from 146 days to 73 days a year.

This shrinks the minimum screen time for Korean films from 40 percent to 20 percent of the total. Critics say the plan will allow big-budget Hollywood productions a greater chance to dominate the domestic box office.

Since the Ministry of Finance and Economy announced the plan in January, amid efforts to secure a free trade agreement (FTA) with the United States, the local film industry and civic groups have protested against it. Last Monday, they began a 146-day, all-night rally against the plan.

South Korea first introduced the screen quota system in 1966 setting the annual screen time for local films at a minimum 33 percent. It was raised to 40 percent in 1985.

In recent years, the film industry has enjoyed a boom with a number of mega-hit films, including ``Shiri’’ in 1998 and, more recently, ``King and the Clown,’’ the biggest-ever selling film here, edging past a 40-percent market share.

The gay-themed ``King and the Clown’’ has to date sold more than 12 million tickets, breaking the 2004 record set by ``Tae Guk Gi’’ with 11.74 million.