Disney sued over Frozen 2's 'monopoly' in South Korean cinemas

Julian Ryall
Frozen 2 was being shown on 88 per cent of all screens, the complaint claims - Disney

The first instalment was the highest-grossing animated film of all time, taking $1.29 billion worldwide, and its sequel has already earned $742 million. But now there is something that could stop the runaway success of Disney's smash-hit Frozen franchise: its own popularity.

The South Korean unit of Disney is being taken to court over the ascendancy of its latest box office hit, Frozen 2.

The Public Welfare Committee filed a complaint with the Seoul Central District Prosecutors Office on Sunday demanding an investigation into the company, alleging that it was in breach of monopoly laws in the domestic film market.

The complaint stated that two days after the film was released on November 23, it was being shown on 88 per cent of all screens across the country and that it was shown 16,220 times on that day alone. 

“This is a case of one business occupying more than 50 per cent of the market and constitutes a violation of the antitrust law”, the complaint said. 

Frozen 2 was being shown on 88 per cent of all screens, the complaint claims Credit: DISNEY

The organisation claimed that Disney was aiming to earn a huge profit in a short space of time and, in doing so, limited consumers’ choices and broke the law. 

More than eight million South Koreans have seen the film, including 2.15 million people last weekend. According to IMDB, Frozen 2's enormous success has already earned Disney $742 million.

South Korea’s domestic movie industry is also unhappy at Frozen 2 stealing the limelight, with the Cineastes Council for Anti-Monopoly releasing a statement last month claiming that the Disney case is “not a one-off” and calling on the government to “tackle the winner-takes-all cinema market”. 

Chung Ji-young, director of Black Money, which was knocked off the top spot at the box office by the Disney film, told a press conference that big-budget Hollywood releases should be on fewer screens for a longer period of time so as not to eat into the takings of other movies. 

South Korea’s Ministry of Culture, Sport and Tourism has said it will consider imposing a cap on the number of cinema screens that can be set aside solely for one film, although the operators of multiplex cinemas oppose the introduction of new regulations and say they should be permitted to meet the demands of the market.