Rising Prices for Leading Actors on K-dramas... Efforts to Discover New Talent Within the Industry

Leading Actors

Criticism of Top Actors' Multi-million Dollar Appearance Fees
Efforts to Unearth New Talent as a Response

The discussion around the hefty appearance fees of certain top actors has stirred up more debate among production companies. People's feelings toward these actors are chilly. In response, drama production companies are ramping up efforts to discover fresh talent, prioritizing artistic quality over star status. They're taking chances on up-and-coming actors who have both acting chops and visual appeal.

Earlier this year, drama production companies raised their voices. The demand for hundreds of millions of won per episode from well-known actors caused production costs to skyrocket, leading to concerns about a harmful cycle in the content industry. Production companies linked with the Korea Drama Production Association expressed difficulties in managing these high fees. Indeed, the audience share within the country has shrunk compared to before.

As a result, production companies are focusing on selling rights overseas and actively seeking out actors who are recognized by international audiences. It's rumored that having actors like Lee Jung-jae, Kim Soo-hyun, and Park Bo-gum in a production, such as "Squid Game," significantly boosts sales on streaming platforms.

Casting A-list actors might seem like a surefire way to success, but it doesn't always guarantee it. Nowadays, having big-name actors onboard doesn't automatically guarantee high ratings. Even if the show starts off strong, it doesn't ensure consistent success until the finale. Ultimately, what really counts is the quality of the production itself. Various broadcasters have released short dramas on OTT platforms, such as "The Impact of One Punch on Parting" and "Wild Boar Hunting," relying solely on their artistic merit.

Especially with K-school dramas, they've gained popularity not only locally but also internationally. Because these dramas feature multiple characters instead of just one lead, they've become a gateway for discovering new talent. If horror movies used to be the starting point for fresh faces, now K-school dramas are taking on that role. Back in the 2000s, low-budget horror flicks had to rely on newbie actors, but as they branched out into different subgenres like creature features and genre films, they began to diversify their casting choices.

In particular, K-school dramas often need actors from younger age groups, so they frequently showcase newcomers. Shows like "Our School Right Now," "After-School War Activities," "High Cookie," and "It's Night" have revolved around rookie actors and achieved significant success. Many newcomers, including Park Ji-hoo, Roh Moon, Yoo In-soo, Kim Woo-seok, Ahn Ji-ho, Lee Jae-in, and Cha Woo-min, have surpassed expectations with their performances.

Top actors usually gravitate towards roles where they can shine the brightest, making it tough for them to blend into ensemble school dramas. However, these dramas present a golden opportunity for rookie actors to showcase their talents. Even in supporting roles, they can make a significant impact and prove their potential.

In "The Pyramid Game" on Tving, most of the 24 students, excluding the protagonist Kim Ji-yeon, are making their debut. The series sets a successful example by reducing actor fees and focusing on direction. Actors like Jang Daa, Shin Seul-gi, Kang Na-eun, and Ryu Da-in, despite being lesser-known, were cast through auditions, bringing a breath of fresh air to the show. These are talents handpicked by directors for their synchronization and acting skills.

The trend of discovering newcomers is especially prominent on OTT platforms. Lee Jung-ha, Go Yoon-jung, and Kim Do-hoon from "Moving" quickly gained recognition, with Kim Do-hoon further solidifying his skills in the short drama "Confession Attack." Additionally, Lee Si-woo from Coupang Play's "Boyhood" has also risen to fame.

According to Management Representative A, there's been a recent surge in discussions about dramas featuring newcomers as protagonists, especially in the search for female leads. Relying solely on a star's reputation for casting can have adverse effects not only on the production but also on the entire industry. The issue of certain actors demanding exorbitant fees persists, with A-listers like those in "The Pyramid Game" earning hundreds of billions, while those in lower tiers struggle financially. Negotiating with top stars to lower their fees is challenging, but if production companies continue to consider the fees of famous actors, there's hope for a healthier and more stable industry ecosystem.

Source: Naver

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