Movie theater chains will be exempted from paying the usual 3 percent cinema development fund fee on all ticket sales, and studios will be able to recoup some funds lost due to canceled shoots or delayed releases.
South Korea's government has unveiled a series of measures designed to boost the country's influential but coronavirus-battered film industry.
Central to the policy plan is a decision to exempt major cinema chains from paying into South Korea's movie development fund. Under local law, large movie theater chains usually are required to pay 3 percent of all ticket sales to the Korean Film Council's movie development fund, which is used to support the local industry's development in various ways. The fund typically generates about $45 million in contributions per year. The new exemption will apply retroactively from February.
The policy response was unveiled in Seoul by South Korea's Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki. He said the government was originally envisioning allowing only delayed payments into the development fund, but decided an exemption was required after further countenancing the depth of the damage caused by the coronavirus.
After Bong Joon Ho's historic Oscar wins for Parasite in February, 2020 was expected to be a celebratory year of growing global relevance for the Korean film industry. But the coronavirus pandemic, which hit Korea hard in February, has put a damper on such hopes. The Korean Film Council reported Wednesday that box office in March totaled just $12.3 million 15.15 billion won, down from $103.0 million 126.56 billion won last year.
The government also unveiled several measures to support production and distribution companies. It will subsidize a portion of the marketing costs for 20 selected movies that were forced to postpone or cancel their release plans during the first quarter because of the coronavirus epidemic. The production companies behind 20 selected movies that were forced to h shooting because of the crisis also will receive funds to help them resume production, according to the finance minister's announcement. At the level of the individual, the government said that 400 industry professionals who lost their jobs or haven't been able to find freelance gigs because of the crisis will be eligible for free vocational training.
The policy plans drew a decidedly mixed response from industry observers. Korean news agency Yonhap ran a story Thursday questioning whether the measures "are effective and realistic enough for theaters and filmmakers to get over the crisis."
Independent movie theaters and art house cinemas with less than 1 billion won $814,000 in annual sales already were exempted from the fund and don't seem to be getting any aid from the government's proposals. It also has been pointed out that most Korean production professionals who have been made idle by the coronavirus shutdown of films shoots are already skilled technicians — most simply need jobs or temporary financial support, not vocational training.
The Korean Film Council is preparing an additional set of support plans for the film industry, which are expected to be unveiled soon.
Police in Crowley, Louisiana have issued an apology for using the siren heard in “The Purge” to signal the 9pm local time curfew that has been put into effect in the city because of the coronavirus outbreak via NME. The curfew prohibits citizens from leaving their homes between the local hours of 9pm and 6am. The police department said the curfew went into place because the city is located in the state’s Acadia Parish, which has “received the worst rating for the rapid spread of the virus. It has been put into place in order to try and slow the spread.” Police are giving citations to people who violate the curfew. People traveling to or from work must have documentation from their employer.
An alarm used by police at the beginning of the month was the same alarm heard in “The Purge,” James DeMonaco’s 2013 horror thriller about a fictional America where for one night it becomes legal to commit any crimes, including murder, for a 12-hour period. The alarm in “The Purge” is heard to signal that the killing and crime sprees can begin. The first “Purge” film starred Ethan Hawke and launched a franchise that includes three follow-up movies and a series on USA Network.
Crowley Police chief Jimmy Broussard said in a statement to the local ABC news affiliate KATC that he was unaware the signal being used for the coronavirus curfew was the same signal heard in “The Purge.” The chief assured citizens that the “Purge” siren would not be used again. The siren caused enough of a stir that an additional statement was released by Acadia Parish sheriff K.P. Gibson.
“Last night a ‘Purge Siren’ was utilized by the Crowley Police Department as part of their starting curfew,” the statement said. “We have received numerous complaints with the belief that our agency was involved in this process. We were not involved in the use of the ‘Purge Siren’ and will not utilize any type of siren for this purpose. Calls regarding this matter should be directed to the Crowley Police and Chief Broussard and not the Acadia Parish Sheriff’s Office.”
Universal Pictures is scheduled to release the next “Purge” movie in theaters this summer, but the film is likely to be delayed because of the coronavirus. The studio was not involved in the Crowley police department’s use of “The Purge” siren.