It's pretty nice hearing expensive films like 놈놈놈 (The Good, The Bad, and The Weird) -- 17 Billion won for production only -- manage to break even while maintaining quality, but the future for Chungmuro and its horrible 2008 might actually be on the horizon: low budget films with acclaimed stars.
We talked a little about Jang Hoon's quite promising 영화는 영화다 (Rough Cut) starring So Ji-Seop and Kang Ji-Hwan, and this is perhaps the best recent example. Critics liked it a lot (think like a "Kim Ki-Duk meets Ryu Seung-Wan" vibe and you're just about there), and despite not enjoying the ridiculously wide release of the aforementioned kimchi western, it did open over 450 screens, and already sold 1 million tickets. Now that would be nothing particularly special, if not for the fact the film cost a mere 650 million won (the two stars invested their fee back into the film). This, in layman's terms, means in a mere fortnight the film made 10 times its initial budget, passing its break even point in the process -- which obviously includes the very expensive marketing fee, usually around 1.5-2 billion per film, but considering the 700,000 tickets needed, probably closer to 1 billion here.
Think that's over? No way. Lee Yoon-Gi's upcoming 멋진 하루 (My Dear Enemy) has Jeon Do-Yeon and Ha Jung-Woo, but merely cost 2 billion; the next film by Kim Ki-Duk with Lee Na-Young and Odagiri Jo, 비몽 (Sad Dream), not surprisingly cost 500 million won; the maligned thriller 트럭 (The Truck) with Yoo Hae-Jin was under the 2 billion, and the (based on trailers, and perhaps the fact Park Chan-Wook helped writing it) insane 미쓰 홍당무 (Crush and Blush) just one billion. Won't be good news for those looking for bombastic blockbusters and their inflated budgets, but it might just be the future for Korean cinema.