Amazon Studios Buys US Rights To Park Chan-wook's THE HANDMAIDEN
Amazon Studios has continued to exert itself in the distribution market with its acquisition of the US rights for The Handmaiden, the new film by Korean director Park Chan-wook. CJ Entertainment sold the US rights, as well as rights to the film in numerous territories including Australia, Japan, Turkey, France, and Germany, at the European Film Market this past week.
Loosely based on the novel Fingersmith by Sarah Waters, The Handmaiden stars Kim Tai-ri as a pickpocket from the slums, who is enlisted by a conman (Ha Jung-woo of The Yellow Sea) in an elaborate scheme to rob a wealthy heiress (Kim Min-hee). The setting has been changed to 1930s Korea, when the country was under Japanese occupation. This is Park's first Korean-language film since Thirst, and his first after his English-language debut Stoker.
With VOD platforms such as Amazon Studios and Netflix acquiring more films, a continuing question is whether these films will have theatrical distribution, or be relegated only to VOD, leaving many without access unless they subscribe, or the films are released to DVD. Stoker earned a respectable (for a director relatively unknown apart from Korean film fans) $1.7 million at the US box office, but foreign-language costume dramas are a hard sell. Certainly, fans of Park's films (such as myself) would want to see this film on a big screen, as it will likely demand, given Park's visual eye and the work of his DP Chung Chung-hoon. Hopefully there will be some form of theatrical release in the US.