Was It Worth Putting Seoul into 'Avengers' Film?

  • By Yoo Jin-woo from the Chosun Ilbo's News Desk

    May 07, 2015 13:02

    Yoo Jin-woo

    Korea has been swept away by Hollywood blockbuster "Avengers: Age of Ultron," just like anywhere else in the world. Korean Film Council data show that the superhero caper is being screened in a massive seven out of 10 movie theaters here, and more than 4 million people saw the movie in its first week of release.

    At IMAX theaters the movie sold out 10 days in advance, while shopping mall shelves are filled with Avengers merchandise, ranging from T-shirts to rechargeable batteries. At this rate, it looks set to break the 7.07 million domestic viewership record set by its predecessor.

    Does the fact that seven or eight minutes of footage were shot in Seoul have anything to do with it? 

    The KFC spent W3.9 billion to have Seoul as the backdrop, under a deal with Marvel where the council agreed to pay 30 percent of the money the U.S. film producer spent shooting scenes in Seoul, which amounted to a staggering W13 billion for 15 days (US$1=W1,082).

    That means it cost W8.1 million per second to promote Seoul, at the expense of inconveniences the public had to put up with as sections of the capital were blocked off for filming. Add licensing fees from manufacturers for the film-related products, and the cost would go up even further.

    A full-page ad in the New York Times costs W52 million and a one-second spot on Korean TV W1 million to W1.5 million. The KFC paid much more than that to feature the capital in the film, claiming that somehow the effect would be worth W2 trillion in boosting the city's brand image.

    The Korea Tourism Organization also said that featuring a location in a film could be great for tourism and that having scenes of "Avengers" shot in Seoul would produce W400 billion worth of effect in promoting the city as well as W2 trillion in boosting its image.

    But can that be true? Critics have lamented that Seoul looks virtually indistinguishable in the movie from any other nondescript city in the world, except for myriad Korean-language signs.

    It is doubtful any foreign visitors have been fired up to come to Seoul after watching the film. Perhaps only Koreans have rushed to theaters so far to see their own capital, and it hardly needs boosting at home.

    It looks like the only ones laughing all the way to the bank are the producers, who got a massive discount on top of their stellar global earnings.

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