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Civic group sues Disney Korea over alleged screen monopoly with 'Frozen 2'

A civic group has filed a complaint against the Korean branch of Walt Disney Company for allegedly violating the Antitrust Act here by
A civic group has filed a complaint against the Korean branch of Walt Disney Company for allegedly violating the Antitrust Act here by "occupying" up to 88 percent of the screens in local movie theaters. / Courtesy of Walt Disney Company

By Kim Jae-heun

A civic group has filed a complaint against the Korean branch of Walt Disney Company for allegedly violating the Antitrust Act here by "occupying" up to 88 percent of the screens in local movie theaters.

According to the civic group Public Welfare Committee (PWC), Monday, it asked the prosecution to investigate the U.S. entertainment conglomerate's monopolization of screens with its recent animated film "Frozen 2."

The committee said the film set a new record of most played movie here, being screened 16,220 times a day and occupying 88 percent of all screens here as of Nov. 23.

"Such a record was only possible because Walt Disney Company has secured over 50 percent of the screens, which is against the antitrust law," the group said in the complaint.

"In France, it is illegal if one film takes up more than three screens at a theater, and the American film market does not allow a movie to take up over 30 percent of the screens. However, Walt Disney Company Korea almost monopolized the screens and reaped big profits in such a short period of time while limiting the consumers' right to choose and therefore violating the antitrust law," it said.

"Frozen 2" has already drawn an audience of over 8.5 million as of Monday, taking only 12 days to do so, and many market insiders expect the number to exceed 10 million within this week.

It took 46 days for the first "Frozen" movie to sell 10 million box office tickets here.

Meanwhile, the Cineastes Council for Anti-Monopoly, a group of filmmakers, held a press conference on Nov. 22 calling on the government and the National Assembly to take action against big-budget movies dominating screens.

"Frozen 2 is a good film that both parents and children can enjoy. But why can't it be screened for a longer period of time, instead of raking in money over a short period of time by monopolizing the screens and taking away viewers from other movies?" said director Chung Ji-young, who participated in the press conference.

Regarding the reason for not suing movie theater operators such as CGV that buy the rights to screen the movie from Disney, Kim Soon-hwan, secretary general of the PWC, said, "In normal conditions, movie theater operators have power over movie distributors, but when Disney is the distributor, the story changes. We strongly suspect the American company asked to secure a certain percentage of screens for their newly released film and Korean cinema complexes have no choice but to satisfy Disney's demand -- or else they will experience disadvantages."


A civic group has filed a complaint against the Korean branch of Walt Disney Company for allegedly violating the Antitrust Act here by
A civic group has filed a complaint against the Korean branch of Walt Disney Company for allegedly violating the Antitrust Act here by "occupying" up to 88 percent of the screens in local movie theaters. / Courtesy of Walt Disney Company

By Kim Jae-heun

A civic group has filed a complaint against the Korean branch of Walt Disney Company for allegedly violating the Antitrust Act here by "occupying" up to 88 percent of the screens in local movie theaters.

According to the civic group Public Welfare Committee (PWC), Monday, it asked the prosecution to investigate the U.S. entertainment conglomerate's monopolization of screens with its recent animated film "Frozen 2."

The committee said the film set a new record of most played movie here, being screened 16,220 times a day and occupying 88 percent of all screens here as of Nov. 23.

"Such a record was only possible because Walt Disney Company has secured over 50 percent of the screens, which is against the antitrust law," the group said in the complaint.

"In France, it is illegal if one film takes up more than three screens at a theater, and the American film market does not allow a movie to take up over 30 percent of the screens. However, Walt Disney Company Korea almost monopolized the screens and reaped big profits in such a short period of time while limiting the consumers' right to choose and therefore violating the antitrust law," it said.

"Frozen 2" has already drawn an audience of over 8.5 million as of Monday, taking only 12 days to do so, and many market insiders expect the number to exceed 10 million within this week.

It took 46 days for the first "Frozen" movie to sell 10 million box office tickets here.

Meanwhile, the Cineastes Council for Anti-Monopoly, a group of filmmakers, held a press conference on Nov. 22 calling on the government and the National Assembly to take action against big-budget movies dominating screens.

"Frozen 2 is a good film that both parents and children can enjoy. But why can't it be screened for a longer period of time, instead of raking in money over a short period of time by monopolizing the screens and taking away viewers from other movies?" said director Chung Ji-young, who participated in the press conference.

Regarding the reason for not suing movie theater operators such as CGV that buy the rights to screen the movie from Disney, Kim Soon-hwan, secretary general of the PWC, said, "In normal conditions, movie theater operators have power over movie distributors, but when Disney is the distributor, the story changes. We strongly suspect the American company asked to secure a certain percentage of screens for their newly released film and Korean cinema complexes have no choice but to satisfy Disney's demand -- or else they will experience disadvantages."


Kim Jae-heun jhkim@koreatimes.co.kr


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