Magazine article Variety

Necessity Was Mother of Success

Magazine article Variety

Necessity Was Mother of Success

Article excerpt

Company's international chief Kini Kim witnessed fast evolution By Patrick Frater

When kini kim, the longest standing executive at CJ Entertainment, began his career at the newly hatched firm, Korean film was in the doldrums and the company was in search of a strategy.

CJ's first stuttering moves into distribution and production were born of necessity.

In 1995, CJ became DreamWorks' second-largest shareholder (behind Paul Allen), but it took until 1997 for DreamWorks to release a film, "The Peacemaker." "And while we had rights across Asia," recounts Kim, "we only had the capacity to handle Korea." In pre-multiplex-era South Korea, however, distribution was typically handled by production companies themselves. "The first independent titles we acquired, 'Secrets and Lies,' and 'Shine,' served as test runs for the later DreamWorks titles," he says.

Similarly, CJ's entry to film production was hesitant. Market share for Korean film in the late 1990s was less than 30%, but the country's cultural-protective screen quotas required cinemas to give the majority of space to local films. So by 1999 CJ decided to pay more serious attention to production.

Times were tough, however. South Korea was severely rocked by the late 1990s Asian financial crisis, and rival conglomerates Daewoo and SK pulled out of the fledgling movie sector. So too did Samsung, to which CJ's founders are related. Still, CJ was bold.

"We wanted to be vertically integrated from the beginning," Kim says. …

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