“Cobweb,” the Kim Jee-woon-directed satire that debuted at Cannes this year, has been cleared for theatrical release in its native Korea later this month. On Monday it saw off an injunction that sought to derail its hometown debut.
The film is a tongue in cheek tribute to the Korean movies of the 1970s and plays partly as a film within a film, jumping from color to black and white as it does so.
It stars Song Kang-ho (“Parasite,” “Broker”) as director Kim, who needs just two more days of reshoots to craft a new ending to his latest film (also called “Cobweb”) so that it will no longer be the trashy potboiler everyone thought he was making. However, there is turmoil on Kim’s set and he has to deal with regular interference from the interventionist censorship authorities.
With the reputation of the real-world director Kin Jee-woon (“A Bittersweet Life,” “The Good The Bad The Weird”) and Song’s star-power, the film has been widely presold in international markets.
The family of the late Kim Ki-young, one of Korea’s best-known directors from the time of the pre-democracy era, however, saw too much of a likeness in “Cobweb” to their ancestor and said that the movie portrayed the late Kim Ki-young (1960’s “The Housemaid”) in a negative light.
Naming production company Anthology Studios as the defendant, Kim Dong-yang, the son of Kim Ki-young, filed for an injunction against the release of “Cobweb.”
A hearing took place on Thursday last week at the Seoul Central District Court but did not immediately deliver a ruling.
“Even director Kim Jee-woon, who made the film, has said in a past interview that he took the late director Kim Ki-young as [an inspiration],” appellant Kim said at the hearing. The family further claimed that at Cannes the film’s central character was called Kim Ki-yeol, but has subsequently been changed to the less specific Director Kim. The character also wore glasses and smoked a pipe, as had the late Kim Ki-yong.
However, Kim Jee-woon has said that the film is not a biography of a real person, and that the character is a composite of multiple filmmakers from that era. Anthology further said that the screening also carried a disclaimer explaining that “Cobweb” has no relationship to a specific person.
On Monday, sales agency Barunson E&A revealed that Anthology and the Kim family had undergone a day of arbitration and reached an out-of-court settlement. That means the injunction suit can be dropped and the Korean release will go ahead as scheduled. The terms of the settlement were not disclosed and are subject to confidentiality clauses.
The Sept. 27 release date makes “Cobweb” one of the front runners to capture the big box office earnings of the Chuseok (or Korean Thanksgiving) holiday period. The holiday has this year been extended by a day bridging to the Oct. 3. National Foundation Day.
Theatrical releases of the film across other parts of Asia-Pacific will follow shortly after. These include The Philippines, Australia and Singapore in the second week of October and Thailand on Oct. 19.