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By Patrick Frater
Thu, 10 May 2012, 09:05 AM (HKT)
CJ Entertainment Inc ＣＪ엔터테인먼트, South Korea's largest film conglomerate, has sought to reassure clients and fans following problems with two films on its current slate.
The documentary feature I Am: SM Town Live World Tour in Madison Square Garden Ｉ ＡＭ． (2012), featuring a behind the scenes, across the years panorama of K-pop stars managed by powerful talent agency SM Entertainment ＳＭ엔터테인먼트, has been postponed due to last minute editing hitches. CJ's big-budget comedy spy action film The Spy: Undercover Operation 스파이 (2013), has been thrown into turmoil, after it parted ways with director LEE Myung-se 이명세 | 李明世 (pictured).
I Am was due for release this week (10 May). An earlier press screening on 30 April was cancelled due to a "data error". The company said in a statement that it will announce a new theatrical release date shortly.
CJ's international sales staff, however, do not anticipate a long delay and report that they expect to go ahead with a market screening in Cannes as scheduled and said that they anticipate showing the new, final edit.
Korean pop music has become hugely popular and influential in Asia and further afield and the film, featuring over 8,000 clips from over 16 years with artists and groups including Kangta 강타, BoA 보아 | 權寶雅, TVXQ 동방신기 (aka DBSK), Super Junior 슈퍼주니어, Girls' Generation 소녀시대, SHINee 샤이니 and f(x) 에프엑스, had attracted considerable fan interest. CJ said that it had struck a number of pre-sales on the unfinished picture.
The problems with Mr K appear to be both artistic and legal.
The company confirmed that Lee has been replaced as director and that LEE Seung-jun 이승준, previously assistant director of action thriller Quick 퀵 (2011) will take over. "Filming at six locations in Thailand took place already. We are still hoping to keep to schedule," said a CJ spokesman.
At a press conference held in Korea this week, the film's production company JK FILM ＪＫ ＦＩＬＭ spoke of a significant legal problem. It said that Lee had "illegally and secretly registered" himself as the copyright holder of the film through the Korean Copyright Commission website, after he departed from the film.
JK spokesman HAN Ji-seon 한지선 revealed that the producers and Lee had had several artistic and creative differences during the early days of shooting in South Korea and Thailand. It alleged that Lee had made significant deviations from the script and made changes that were no longer appropriate to an action adventure film.
Han said that under the terms of Lee's contract, the copyright resided with JK Film and scriptwriter PARK Su-jin 박수진.
CJ confirmed that all the talent remains on board and that production will resume shortly. "We are trying to keep to schedule," a spokesman said. The film was originally scheduled to be ready for an end of year release.