Back to the Past
Back to the Past
  • Song Yoon Heejeong
  • 승인 2018.03.21 21:07
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Before dying, if you have the opportunity to relive one past memory, which one of the millions you have created over the years would you choose?  “Wonderful Life”, which was re-released in January, makes people ponder this idea.  In 2017, people lived a busy, hard, and routine lifestyle, but 2017 also brought us both small and big issues that we dealt with. Precious memories that although seem unimportant now could be the memory that pops to mind later in the future.  Like this, rereleased films spark past among many Korean moviegoers these days.  Have you ever been to a rereleased film and wondered why people enjoy sitting through a film they’ve already seen before?   


Recalling Memories 


In 2017, a number of rereleased films showed box office success in Korea.  In June, ‘Shine’, which retells the life of an incredible pianist’s life were rereleased.  In July, “The Dark Knight” and “Flipped”, renowned first-love stories, and in November, “Once”, ‘The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button’, and ‘If Only’ were rereleased.  In December, the film “Love Letter”, famous for line “おげんきですか(How are you?)” was released.  During the Christmas season, 10 romance films which are popular with Korean fans, were rereleased.  They included: ‘Love Actually’, ‘Ghost’, celebrating the 1st anniversary of its premiere in Korea, and “La La Land”.  The trend to rerelease films continued into 2018.  On January 4, two Japanese films, “wonderful Life”, and “君の名は” (Your Name.) were rereleased simultaneously and in February, “Titanic” was rereleased.  Within a day after its rerelease, the Japanese animation “Your Name” became the top ranked key word on Google Korea and Naver.  These figure, clearly shows Koreans’ enthusiasm and interest in rereleased films. 


Interestingly, rereleased films almost all seem to center on romance.  Especially, romance seems to be more popular during colder weather.  Our chilly feelings seem to dissipate from the warmth of a romantic movie.  According to the Korean Film Commission, the top five rereleased movies in 2017 were “If Only”, “The Dark Knight” (43,936), “Once” (37,619), “50 First Date” (37,619), and “Hedwig”.  Two of them are specific to the romance genre.  Not only that, among the top 5 rereleased movies of 2016, there were three romance films “The Notebook” (1,182,633), “500 Days of Summer” (147,891), and “Before Sunrise” (56,082).  In other words, since the success of rereleased films is guaranteed to some degree like that, distributing agencies rerelease films, especially romantic movies.


Trend of Rereleasing Movies 


Nowadays, there is a slump in the Korean romance film industry.  Therefore, people wishing to see romance films must find old movies to satisfy their interest because there are few new romance films being released at Korean box offices.  According to the Korean Film Commitment, of the top 50 movies released in 2017, only two films, “Beauty and the Beast” (8th) and “Your Name.” (14th) were romance films.  Since, on average, these films attracted between 3,000,000 and 5,000,000 moviegoers, it shows a demand for romance films clearly.  Beauty and the beast’ is a Disney animation film released in 1991, but it has been loved by audiences globally throughout the world steadly.  “Your Name.” is another animation movie from Japan.  Because there are few new romance films in box offices, distributing agencies, well aware of the demand for romantic films by audiences, rerelease previously successfully romance films.  Hwang Jaehyun, Manager at CGV said the film releasing trend is to go retro and rerelease films that spark warm tender emotions.  The idea among many people is that retro simulates positive memories and fantasies of the past and nostalgia.1)  People yearn to relive emotions of the past because those feeling of love can help people cope with their hectic daily lifestyle.
Rereleased movies draw moviegoers to theaters.  It evokes nostalgia among older people who have seen the film and excites the younger generation watching it for the first time.  Furthermore, people know the success of the film, so they opt to pay to see the movie without risk of it disappointing them.  The Korean Federation of Film Archives investigated reasons people watch rereleased films.  Among the 1569 surveyed people who had watched rereleased movies, 49.7% (768 people) said that while they had seen the movie before, they’d never seen it on the big screen.  Another 33.9% said that they watched the movie in theater before but wanted to see it again (523 people).  16.4% said that they hadn’t seen the film before but after hearing good reviews about it went to see it (253 people).  During the film, moviegoers said they recalled pleasant past experiences. The survey illustrates an effective attraction policy that earns distributing agencies a solid profit.  Whenever a movie is viewed by over 10,000 people, the movie exceeds the break-even point.  Rereleased movies guarantee the break-even point and reduce marketing costs because they are known among moviegoers through online information.


Rereleased Films Influence Us 


Rereleased movies are loved by huge number of people as illustrated by the number of great reviews they receive, so they are called ‘credible movies’.  These films attract fans who have already seen the movie and new first-time viewers.  The older generation watches a film from their youth and the younger generation see a movie for the first time.  The two generations can share the experience of watching the film and discuss the emotions it brings out.  Furthermore, nowadays, rereleased movies meet the needs of moviegoers for more romance films.  Film companies and companies that invest in film are hesitant to support the directing of a romance movie since profits may not cover costs.  For this reason, most Korean film companies focus on blockbusters or thriller movies that are guaranteed to attract people to watch it on the big screen for the surround sound it adds to the film.  Film companies are importing and distributing rereleased movies in order to cover the demand by Korean audiences for romance films because of the shortage of domestic market romance genre.  Kwon Younghwan, Manager of Uni Korea Literature Investment, said new movies face a hard time in succeeding because of the large number of films released regularly, but rereleased films are already known to many people so they easily attract audiences.2)  However, it is necessary that Korean romance films need to be more creative in order to attract bigger audiences. 


Audiences are aware of the cinematic quality of rereleased films.  However, since the films have been aired on IPTV, it is easy to obtain an illegal copy of the movie.  Kim Shi-nae, Representative of AUD, a film import company, said ‘In order to rerelease a film, we must purchase all copyrights, from IPTV broadcasting to theatrical productions.  The films are easily obtained online illegally, so control is hard.”3)  She added that because of illegal downloading, she hesitates to distribute rereleased films despite knowledge that they will turn a profit.  Most people who go to see a rereleased film look forward to watching it on the big screen in surround sound.  To maintain proper film ethics, it is important to stop illegal downloading and practice proper ethics.  Unless people change for the better, film diversity will disappear.  Independent and artistic films need to compete with not only commercial films, but also rereleased films, so there is the fear that rereleased films will hurt their competitiveness.4)  All stakeholders in the film industry must balance rereleased films, proper ethical usage, and support for the domestic film industry. 


Consolation For All of You 

“Some of us get dipped in flat, some in satin, and some in gloss.  But every once in a while, you find someone who is iridescent.  And when you do, nothing will ever compare(Flipped, 2010)”  Though you haven’t met an iridescent person, you will meet someday.  Many rereleased films encourage us by lifting our spirits, warming our hearts, and providing a cozy 2-hour break.  With more demand, there will be more rereleased films.  However, it is important for directors and writers to make continuous effort to create new cultural content that goes beyond convenience and makes audiences think critically.  It will be better if theaters release more varied movies so that everyone enjoys making new memories with family and friends.   


1) Han Jin, “Open Your Wallet, the Cost of Psychological Satisfaction”, JoongangIlbo, January 16, 2018

2) Chung Suyoung, ”2018’s New Trend, the Cost of Psychological Satisfaction”, News1, January 7, 2018

3) Lee Jongmoo “Me-Only Tendency Will Grow This Year and Affect Household Appliance Companies”, MaeilIlbo, January 4, 2018.

4) Same as 3

5) Yoo Hyunhee, “2018 Food Service Industry Four Keywords”, Bridge Economy, December 19, 2017


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