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Box-office hit 'Frozen 2' reignites debate over anti-monopoly regulations

As Walt Disney's ambitious film "Frozen 2" smashes the South Korean box office, the local cinema market is again engulfed in a long-running debate over anti-monopoly regulations.


"Frozen 2," the sequel to 2013's "Frozen," exceeded 6 million admissions on the ninth day of its release as of Friday, according to the latest data compiled by the Korean Film Council (KOFIC).

In particular, about 1.66 million people saw the animated film on Saturday alone, on par with the all-time daily high set by Marvel's "Avengers: Endgame" in April this year.

The flick also accounted for 74 percent of all showings available on local screens on the same day.

On the other hand, "Black Money," a South Korean crime film, was allegedly the biggest victim of the strong dominance of "Frozen 2." Opening on Nov. 13, the film topped the box office for about a week, attracting a combined 610,000 moviegoers over its first weekend of Nov. 16-17, with a screening share of 26 percent.

But a week later, when it clashed with Disney's highly anticipated film, its weekend audience dropped to 270,000 and its screening percentage plunged to 10 percent.

"I looked forward to my movie's good results thanks to favorable previews," Chung Ji-young, the director of "Black Money," was quoted as saying in a press release on Monday. "('Frozen 2') dealt a severe blow to my film due to the sharp drop in screening share."

A screen monopoly by a blockbuster is not new in the South Korean film market. Calls for placing a cap on the number of movie screens a single film can take have increased every time a big-budget tentpole produced and distributed by big names like CJ ENM and Lotte Entertainment has hit local screens.

In October, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism said it would consider putting a ceiling on the number of movie screens that can be allotted to a single film, but no visible progress has been made yet.

A group of local filmmakers demanded the government take immediate action in a way to promote cinematic diversity and foster small and midsize film studios.

"The screen monopoly is not a one-off case," the Cineastes Council for Anti-Monopoly, consisting of South Korean filmmakers, said in a statement released on Monday. "The government has to tackle the winner-takes-all cinema market."

Still, big multiplexes like CJ CGV and Lotte Cinema oppose the regulation, saying that the intervention infringes on the functioning of the market. Moreover, some film buffs argue that they have the right to see the movies they want as much as they want.

"This debate has been repeating every season when blockbusters sweep the box office," film critic Yoon Sung-eun said. "There should be some measures that guarantee cultural diversity although capitalism works here."