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Ko - production in Busan
  • THE PRINCESS AND THE MATCHMAKER’s Production Company Jupiter Film CEO Peter ZHU
  • by KIM Su-bin /  Mar 06, 2018
  • “I’m always tense, but filmmaking is still enjoyable”

    The Princess and the Matchmaker has been performing great at the box office. The comedy, period film is about people who try to change their fortune through the princess’ marriage. In 2013, 9.13 million people watched The Face Reader (2013). Along with The Face Reader and Myung-dang (working title), which is to be released near Thanksgiving Day this year, The Princess and the Matchmaker is a part of a fortune telling trilogy by Jupiter Film. The CEO of Jupiter Film, Peter ZHU established the company in 2000 and has introduced diverse films since then. We met with him to talk about the trilogy as well as the films Jupiter Film is producing.

    I heard that Myung-dang was the first to be developed 12 years ago out of the three films. What was the motivation that kept you working on one film for 12 years?

    I considered films a part of my life, so I decided to continuously make films without slacking off. I still think the same way. That must have been the driving force. We started working on Myung-dang right after the release of our very first film, My Wife Got Married (2008). This means it’s been over 10 years since we began work on it. Midway through, we gave up on the treatment and the scenario too. While researching the philosophy behind feng shui and good gravesites, I came across the script for The Face Reader. That is how it became the first film of the trilogy. After The Face Reader was released, we decided to continue making a series of films based on the fortune telling that Korean people like. That is how the last of the trilogy became Myung-dang which actually initiated the series. A good film comes from great planning and a great script. If something gets stuck or if it doesn’t satisfy me, I normally just put it away. That’s how other projects get made in between. However, some of these put away projects still come to mind time after time, and that’s how the order of production sometimes changes.

    What would you say about something that differentiates The Princess and the Matchmaker from other historical films?

    I believe The Princess and the Matchmaker will be a historical film, the likes of which we have never seen before. Whenever we think about historical films, we assume they will be stories that are too serious. The Princess and the Matchmaker has a lighter story that can make you laugh and warm you up. The colors are beautiful as well. A good match can be made between a man and a woman, but it’s not limited to just people. Every object, nature, and even foods have good matches. The film puts its main focus on a man and a woman, but it also shows matches between family members, friends, co-workers, food and people, and between people and objects as well. It’s an interesting fortune-telling historical drama.

    Many have high anticipations for Myung-dang. What should the audience watch out for?

    It has a very strong story, and the action scenes are entertaining. You should also watch the great acting by CHO Seung-woo, JI Sung, KIM Sung-kyun, and BAEK Yoon-sik. I’m sure the high anticipation comes from it being the last installment of the trilogy after The Face Reader and The Princess and the Matchmaker. Myung-dang is about those who desire and fight for the best gravesite. Getting a good gravesite has been an interest of Korean people no matter their occupation or religion. The story is about finding that good location. The king and his subject get into a feud over taking possession of the best gravesite that is said to give birth to two kings. We’re in the post-production stage, and we’re scheduled to release around Thanksgiving.

    Is there a reason why you started to get interested in fortune telling?

    The people of our time are anxious and are living with uncertainty about their future. That’s why they’re curious about their future and fate, and want to find something to rely on. People get their fortunes read, faces read, and ask experts about good gravesites. This is the same in both Asia and everywhere else in the world. In the West, they believe in astrology and get their tarot cards read. They consider it a psychological consultation. Although they think it is superstitious, they still want to believe it. If you’re a human, you can’t help but be interested in your fate, thus the interest in fortune telling. I’m not a believer, but while preparing for such films I felt comforted by fortune telling in small things. 

    Ever since My Wife Got Married, Jupiter Film has produced films of diverse genres including horror and melodrama. Along with the fortune telling trilogy, Domundaejak: Taste (translated title) is also a historical film. Maybe that’s why people think the production company specializes in historical films.

    Jupiter Film doesn’t really have a clear style. It doesn’t matter what genre it is. If it has a unique story, then we’re interested. We’re not aiming to focus on historical films. But the fortune telling trilogy as well as the following release are all historical films, so I think that’s why people say that. I’m thankful because I think it’s a good thing. Even if they’re all historical, they all have different stories and moods. I wanted to make Domundaejak: Taste because I love food and looking for good restaurants.

    When the Sewol Ferry sank, you donated 100,000 dollars, and you also donated 50% of the profits from The Face Reader to various charities.

    This is largely because of my mother who passed away five years ago. She worked so hard to raise her children, so I wanted to treat her well but she died before I could do anything. That’s why I turned my eyes to society. You can’t get ahead in film by yourself, just like in any field. Films require the sweat of many people to come to fruition, and most of all, it is nothing without the audience. I want to say that I “shared” instead of “donated” because that sounds like it’s just a part of daily life and nothing too special. I want to share the value and happiness of the hard work I do. It’s also a way for me to find self-realization as well.

    What are the charms and difficulties of filmmaking?

    The charm is that while being immersed in production, I tend to lead a younger life and don’t feel older. On the other hand, that also means a year passes by too fast. It’s hard to live feeling tense all the time. However, filmmaking is always fun for me.
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