Producer Breaks Away From Usual Roles for Korean-American Actors

The hit Hollywood thriller “Disturbia,” starring rising young actor Shia LaBeouf, will open in Korean theaters Aug. 30. While many are looking forward to seeing LaBeouf, who was last seen in the blockbuster “Transformers,” Korean audiences will be interested to know that a Korean-American actor plays a key role in “Disturbia.”

It is still rare to find Korean-Americans play key roles in Hollywood films, so “Disturbia,” a film produced by Steven Spielberg and The Montecito Picture Company, is a welcome exception.

Gerald D. Moon, a Korean senior executive at Montecito Pictures, said he wants to see Korean and other Asian characters properly promoted in Hollywood films.

“There’s a Korean-American playing a significant role in this film, and there’s not too many Hollywood films that have Koreans, or Asians in general. … The character in ‘Disturbia’ is not the usual Asian stereotype in the film. I don’t want to produce a film that typecasts Asians. This character Ronnie is Korean, and he’s cool and hip,” Moon told The Korea Times, in a telephone interview.

“Disturbia” is about a troubled teenager Kale, played by LaBeouf, who is sentenced to house arrest. He soon becomes convinced his neighbor is a serial killer, and enlists the help of his wisecracking best friend Ronnie, played by Aaron Yoo, to investigate.

Moon, a former investment banker on Wall Street, manages a $200 million Wall Street-backed film production fund. The fund, Cold Spring Picture LLC, co-finances films produced by The Montecito Picture Company, which is owned by former Universal Studios chief Tom Pollock and well-known director/producer Ivan Reitman.

The company has a distribution deal with DreamWorks Studios. Under the deal, DreamWorks is given a first look on all films from Montecito and Cold Spring.

“Disturbia” is the first film they co-financed and produced with DreamWorks under the new deal. The film has grossed over $80 million in the U.S. box office alone finishing #1 in the U.S. three weeks in a row earlier this year, and is performing extremely well in the international box office.

Moon said “Disturbia” cost only about $20 million to make, but is already on track to gross over $200 million including box-office, DVD sales and pay-per-view sales.

Their next project with DreamWorks is “Tale of Two Sisters,” a remake of the Korean movie “Janghwa Hongreon” which starred Moon Geun-young and Yum Jung-ah. The film is about two sisters, who spend time in a mental institution and return home to their father and cruel stepmother. The Hollywood remake stars Elizabeth Banks and David Strathairn, who recently appeared in the “Bourne Ultimatum.”

Moon said this movie is currently being filmed in Canada, and is scheduled for worldwide release in 2008.

“We are trying to stay true to the Korean movie itself. But we westernized the script, so it can appeal to mass audiences in the U.S. and Europe, as well as Asia. We have to stay true to the essence of the Korean version of the story, but we feel we’re making a better film. I would say we developed a more international movie, but it’s only natural since we want to make sure the film appeals to a wider audience,” he said.

He hopes the “Tale of Two Sisters” would spark enough interest that audiences would go and watch the original Korean film.

“I anticipate this movie will put a spotlight on Korean films and show everyone that Korean movies are well made and entertaining, too,” he said.

Moon stated that they are busy managing and putting various movie deals together and expects to have a minimum of two films released every year under the Cold Spring Pictures and The Montecito Picture Company banner.

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