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Korean Historical Thriller ‘The Night Owl’ Licensed to China for Remake

Apr 17, 2024
  • Source by Variety
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Korean Historical Thriller ‘The Night Owl’ Licensed to China for Remake




South Korean film studio Next Entertainment World (NEW) reports that period thriller “The Night Owl” has been licensed for remake in China.


It claims that its deal is the highest price ever paid for rights to remake Korean IP in China, but it declined to disclose either the value of the deal or the identity of the buyer.


South Korea and China maintain frosty diplomatic relations and, despite Korean content being hugely popular worldwide, film industry relations have been frozen as a consequence. No Korean film has had a theatrical release in China for nearly a decade.


But remakes are a way around the problem. Chinese companies have adopted the practice of licensing and remaking Korean films and TV shows in order to play down the origins of the story and to be able to legitimately claim that their titles now have Chinese nationality. 


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The 2022 film was directed by Ahn Tae-jin and scripted by Ahn, Bang Soo-in and Hyun Gyu-ri. It starred Ryu Jun-yeol and Yoo Hae-jin.

Set in the 14th century, the narrative follows a blind acupuncturist who, strangely, is able to see at night. That enables him to be an eyewitness to the death of the crown prince.

The film was produced by C-JeS Entertainment (“Emergency Declaration”) and released in November 2022, before going on to earn some $26 million in a theatrical run that continued into January 2023.

According to the Korean Film Council, the export value of film remake rights reached $3.8 million last year, the highest figure since 2017.

NEW, through its subsidiary Contents Panda, has already seen international success with remakes of “Miracle in Cell No. 7” and “Train to Busan,” and is currently in negotiations to co-produce a Japanese version of another Korean hit “Hide and Seek.”

Danny Lee, EVP at NEW’s rights sales arm Content Panda, said, “This is an achievement that recognizes the power of a successful IP that combines historical drama and thriller elements. We look forward to the results of the localization process.”

Written by Patrick Frater
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