D-WAR Finally Gets Theatrical Release
The long-awaited South Korean fantasy/monster movie D-WAR will finally see the light of day. On June 4, Korean distributor Showbox (THE HOST) officially announced that the monster epic will be released in both South Korea and the United States this August.
According to a press release from the distributor, D-WAR will open on August 2 in South Korea and later that month in the United States (the exact date has yet to be revealed). Showbox also provided the rather surprising news that the film will be released on more than 1,500 screens across America. If this does happen, D-WAR will become the first South Korean film ever to receive a wide release in the United States as well as the first to open almost simultaneously in both South Korea and the US.
The North American release of D-WAR will be handled by Freestyle Releasing, a theatrical distribution company that mainly deals with smaller and independent production companies. Freestyle operates differently than most US distributors… the company provides a “full service deal” (including publicity, theatrical bookings, distribution of prints, and collection of rental fees) for a pre-determined flat fee rather than a percentage of profits from ticket sales. Some of Freestyle’s movies include the comedy A DAY WITHOUT A MEXICAN (2004), the Sidney Lumet/Vin Diesel courtroom drama FIND ME GUILTY (2006), FIRST SNOW (2007) starring Guy Pearce, and the horror festival 8 FILMS TO DIE FOR (2007). Their best known and widest release is THE ILLUSIONIST, which starred Edward Norton, Jessica Biel and Paul Giamatti. THE ILLUSIONIST opened on 1,432 screens in 2006.
D-WAR was written, produced, and directed by actor/comedian Hyung-Rae Shim, a man named Korea’s most profitable entertainer of the 1990s. In 1993, Shim formed Younggu-art Entertainment Co., Ltd. (named after his comedic character Young-gu) and began producing his own films. After several successful comedies and children’s pictures, he turned his attention to YONGGARY (1999/2001, aka REPTILIAN), an English language remake of the classic Korean monster movie YONGARY MONSTER FROM THE DEEP (Taekoesu Yonggary, 1967). Heavily promoted by Shim as the film that would take the world by storm, YONGGARY was a resounding critical and commercial flop in South Korea, and ignored by the international market. In response to the criticism he received, Hyung-Rae Shim decided to go all-out for his next project: a large-scale fantasy based on Korean legends.
Initially announced as DRAGON WARS for a 2002 release, D-WAR has been a long time coming. Filming finally began in December 2004 with a cast that included Jason Behr (ROSWELL, THE GRUDGE), Robert Forster (REFLECTIONS IN A GOLDEN EYE, JACKIE BROWN), and Amanda Brooks (FLIGHTPLAN). D-WAR was screened for the first time for foreign buyers at the American Film Market in Santa Monica, CA on November 4, 2006, and again at the Berlin Film Market on February 8, 2007. According to Showbox, additional tweaks were finally completed on May 18, 2007, after a long production period of 6 years.
The years of delays, the expense of setting up and creating the visual effects, working with Hollywood actors and crew, and shooting much of the film on location in Los Angeles have made D-WAR the most expensive movie in South Korean history. Some early reports listed figures as high as $145 million US, but Showbox recently claimed the net production budget of D-WAR as 30 billion Korean won (approximately $32.3 million US). Factoring in expenses for equipment and technical investments, the full production budget is 70 billion won ($75.4 million US). In any version of the story, these are staggering numbers, especially by the South Korean film industry standards where the average film costs well under 10 billion won (in the $10 million US range).
In conjunction with the theatrical release news, the Korean language D-WAR official website has received a facelift, and now features the latest poster design and a new Korean teaser trailer for the film. The 35-second teaser mostly consists of action scenes involving Buraki the Evil Imoogi’s attack on Los Angeles, and the Korean tagline “Legend Becomes Reality!” One interesting note is that the trailer uses the “Redrum” theme from Immediate Music, which has been in many trailers including spots for GODZILLA: FINAL WARS (2004).
The official website also has the aforementioned press release from Showbox, a poster menu (not yet updated), a pop up event menu with a countdown banner for people to put on their own internet websites or blogs, and links to the two D-WAR fan clubs in South Korea. The D-WAR site will be updated as the opening day approaches.
For production info and a review of D-WAR, please see the previous coverage here on SciFi Japan: