Film crowdfunding: When viewers are stakeholders

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Just as the local cinemas seemed to be recovering from the monthslong slump caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, South Korean film distributor Merrychristmas Inc. announced that it was turning to crowdfunding platform Crowdy to fund its marketing budget of 300 million won ($254,000) for upcoming film Space Sweepers.

A relatively new company seeking crowdfunding for a large blockbuster was unprecedented, and more than 4,500 people signed up to be notified of the actual start of the crowdfunding campaign, an important marker in predicting a crowdfunding project’s success.

Space Sweepers recruits individual investors

Within five days of its crowdfunding campaign launch, Space Sweepers reached about two-thirds of the target amount. Then came a sudden resurgence of COVID-19 in the Greater Seoul area that soon spread to the rest of the country. Through the rest of August, the number of cinemagoers recorded new lows almost daily, and the public’s interest in the crowdfunding project quickly cooled. When the campaign closed Friday, it had reached 74 percent of its goal. A project is considered a success if at least 80 percent of the target amount is reached.

According to Chris Chung, chief operating officer of Merrychristmas, the company decided to push ahead with crowdfunding — not because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but despite it.

“We had been preparing for the project since January and the original plan was to raise the fund between April and May, because the initial release date of the film was late July,” Jung told The Korea Herald in a phone call.

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