South Korean shares linked to director Bong Joon-ho’s Oscar-winning movie Parasite — a dark comedy about the gap between rich and poor — have soared after investors piled in following its unprecedented success at the Academy Awards.
Shares in its production company, distributor and even an instant noodle maker featured in the film have all shot up since Parasite became the first non-English-language film to win Hollywood’s top prize on Sunday, prompting celebrations in South Korea.
By yesterday’s close, Barunson E&A Corp, the company that produced Parasite, was up 91 percent on Seoul’s junior KOSDAQ market from Friday, the last trading day before the Oscars ceremony.
Nongshim Co, the South Korean food and beverage maker that makes the two instant noodles in the recipe featured in the movie, was up 11 percent.
Parasite distributor CJ ENM Co, already one of the South’s biggest media firms, was up 4.5 percent on the main KOSPI market.
Parasite cost a reported 13.5 billion won (US$11 million at the current exchange rate) to make, but since its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival in May last year, it has earned US$130 million worldwide.
For a tiny South Korean hedge fund, the shock Oscar win of Parasite could not be better news.
The fund, run by Seoul-based Ryukyung PSG Asset Management Inc, has invested about US$500,000 in the movie.
The privately sold fund invests only in movies distributed by CJ ENM, and it has returned 72.1 percent since its launch in July 2018, according to data compiled by KB Securities Co and seen by Bloomberg News.
It has also profited from other South Korean cinema hits, including Extreme Job and Exit.
“Film funds are in the limelight at the moment,” Samsung Securities Co analyst Andy Kim said in Seoul.
While the popularity of Parasite could help attract more demand, it might still be hard to widen the investor base significantly given the niche investment’s high volatility and the difficulty of assessing whether a movie will sell well, he said.
Meanwhile, Parasite’s box office dividend in the US and the UK has become clear.
Although it is already available on DVD and streaming formats in the US, it took more than US$501,000 at cinemas on Monday — a 213 percent increase on figures for Monday last week.
Parasite is playing on more than 1,000 US screens and its distributor is planning to add about 1,000 more this weekend.
In the UK, where Parasite opened on Friday last week, it took just under ￡1.4 million (US$1.82 million) on 400 screens to become the highest grossing subtitled film ever in the UK.
Its UK distributor has confirmed plans to add another 50 screens this weekend
Additional reporting by Bloomberg and the Guardian
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