The latest Netflix original film, “Hillbilly Elegy,” hit the cinemas of South Korea’s largest movie chains, CGV and Lotte Cinema, on Nov. 11. Multiplexes in Korea continued to boycott the screenings of Netflix movies in actual theaters due to their profit loss during months of the pandemic, with more people choosing to stay home and watch movies through streaming platforms. However, CGV and Lotte Cinemas announced their new policy to screen Netflix original films in the theaters as Netflix agreed to follow along the two-week holdback period, and seemingly concluded the continuing tension between Netflix and the movie theaters amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Personally, I think CGV and Lotte Cinema are making a smart move by recently deciding to screen Netflix movies,” said Rachel Lee (12), user of Netflix. “In the past couple of months, especially due to the ongoing pandemic, I did not visit the cinemas to go watch a movie for a long time. Instead, I stayed home and watched various films through Netflix, since they also have released many Netflix original films. Because the cinemas had a negative impact due to this situation, I think this would make amends to the costs that they had to go through for the past couple of months.”
This is the first time that a Netflix original film has been screened in Korean cinemas since the 2017 film “Okja,” directed by Bong Joon-ho, well-known as the main director of the movie “Parasite.” Following the COVID-19 outbreak, many people were prohibited from going outdoors or congregating in crowded places, notably movie theaters, due to strict social distancing regulations. As a result, Netflix users rapidly increased over the time, which consequently led the movie theater industry to experience significant financial losses over the few months. The public noted that the agreement that the cinemas made with Netflix would help the movie industry to follow along with the rapidly altering media environment and intensifying competition for bankable content.
“I think that this decision between the two largest chains of cinemas and Netflix will be able to alleviate the on-going tension,” said Janice Park (12), frequent user of Netflix. “The movie industry has been collapsing and almost going bankrupt because people are not going there these days since they can easily access the movies they want to watch at home through Netflix. Netflix original films have been going through many successes lately, so this decision gives hope for the movie industry again.”
According to Korea Times, CGV experienced a loss of 227.3 billion won for the second and third quarters, forcing them to close their theaters in certain locations throughout the year. However, as CGV officials have announced, they will be putting more efforts on securing movies that can allow more people to come to the cinemas. With the recent decision to screen the newest Netflix made movie, “Hillbilly Elegy,” officials from the movie chains also stated that they will certainly continue conversations on screening more Netflix original films.
“I have had Netflix since 2002 and used it for a really long time,” said Patrick Young, English teacher. “I do also like going to the movie theaters a lot, but I imagine that less and less people are going to go because there seems to be no definite end to the coronavirus yet. I think the flexible partnership between Netflix and the Korean cinemas is a good idea. They are trying something different and maybe it could produce better movies in the future. Hopefully they can create some new ideas in this partnership and can at the very least keep theaters open, since I do like going there.”