As we noted in our feature 5 Great & 5 Disappointing English-Language Debuts By Foreign-Language Directors, when filmmakers from abroad come to Hollywood, the results can be a mixed bag. And that is sometimes down to the vastly different way things work in the industry stateside. “The main difference I noticed was, was how short the pre-production and production was in the United States, whereas the post was much longer in Korea,” “Stoker” director Park Chan-wook told us in 2013. “If you would ask me what my ideal process is, I would say, long pre-production, long production and long post-production.” And while his American debut made it to cinemas without much drama (except from critics who were split on the pic), it would seem behind the scenes there were a few more problems.
In a profile of Park’s South Korean colleague Bong Joon-ho, the Financial Times reveals “Fox cut 20 minutes” from “Stoker.” The running time for the film, 99 minutes, was the same at the Sundance premiere as it was in the theatres, so the snips were made before it unspooled, but as Bong explains, the situation was different from his battle with The Weinstein Company—in which he was ultimately victorious—in some key ways.
“All three of us [directors] know each other very well,” he says, also referring to Kim Jee-woon, who helmed the Arnold Schwarzenegger vehicle “The Last Stand.” “And when we talk about our experiences on these films…we’re like, ‘Oh, I had it the worst.’ But they did have a worse time than me, I think. Because ‘Snowpiercer’ is a Korean film, but with Hollywood actors. I had almost 100 per cent creative control. My own final cut.”
“Of course, something happened after the pick-up by The Weinstein Company but now it’s all OK. I worked it out,” he added. “But in the case of Park Chan-wook and Kim Jee-woon, they were dealing with companies like Fox and Lionsgate. The Hollywood studio has very strong power, and they were making their first English-language movies.”
However, the first time overseas for all three did not end well, with “Stoker” and “The Last Stand” failing critically and commercially, while Bong Joon-ho, even with final cut, had to wrestle to see his vision through, with the compromise of a limited release. So perhaps it’s not a shock that his next effort will be back in his native tongue. And he’s kicking around a couple of ideas. “I’m fascinated by two ideas, both Korean-language. One is a ‘Snowpiercer’-sized movie with VFX [visual effects]—you could call it an adventure film. The other is a very unique and strange, ensemble cast story that’s hard to explain.”
Um, we’ll sign up for both, please. But let us know if you want 20 more minutes of “Stoker,” and check out “Snowpiercer” when it opens on June 27th.