Bong Joon Ho, the director of Okja, has said that he wants his film to be released in theaters but respects Netflix’s release plans.
Okja caused quite a stir at Cannes when Netflix announced its release plans for the film, but its director is now taking the diplomatic route in respecting Netflix’s rights to release the film how they want while still hoping to see it in theatres.
The top exhibitors in South Korea, Bong’s home country, have said that they will not release the movie as expected on June 29th if Netflix continue ahead with their plan of releasing the film the same day online. Standard practice in the country is to wait three weeks before a film hits the internet.
“South Korea has been a special territory for Okja since the beginning. And I am the one responsible for the current fuss,” Bong said at the film’s press launch in Seoul. “My cinematographer and I always thought this film would look great on the big screen, and I told the distributors and Netflix that I want it to open in as many cinemas as possible in the U.S., U.K., and Korea.”
Following French exhibitors angry response at Okja’s inclusion at Cannes, Korean theatre operators have decided to harden their own position on the movie. The film was initially set to be released via distributor Next Entertainment World.
“Multiplexes want a three-week hold-back, which I understand because that’s what is natural for exhibitors. On the other hand, Netflix has its simultaneous release policy, which I also respect,” said Bong. “New rules are being made because of these controversies.”
Bong finished by admitting how essential it is for subscribers to see the film before anyone else.
“Netflix Originals are funded by Netflix users’ subscription fees. We cannot deprive them of their right to access the film first,” he said.
SEE ALSO: Read our review of Okja here
For 10 idyllic years, young Mija (An Seo Hyun) has been caretaker and constant companion to Okja – a massive animal and an even bigger friend – at her home in the mountains of South Korea. But that changes when the family-owned multinational conglomerate Mirando Corporation takes Okja for themselves and transports her to New York, where image obsessed and self-promoting CEO Lucy Mirando (Tilda Swinton) has big plans for Mija’s dearest friend.
With no particular plan but single-minded in intent, Mija sets out on a rescue mission, but her already daunting journey quickly becomes more complicated when she crosses paths with disparate groups of capitalists, demonstrators and consumers, each battling to control the fate of Okja…while all Mija wants to do is bring her friend home.
Deftly blending genres, humor, poignancy and drama, Bong Joon Ho (Snowpiercer, The Host) begins with the gentlest of premises-the bond between man and animal-and ultimately creates a distinct and layered vision of the world that addresses the animal inside us all.
Okja is set to arrive on Netflix on June 28th and will also receive a limited one day release in the States.