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Lotte Cinema accused of suppressing controversial film

All Headlines 16:32 February 19, 2014

SEOUL, Feb. 19 (Yonhap) -- Civic groups and the production crew of the Korean film based on the death of a Samsung Electronics employee claimed Wednesday that Lotte Cinema abused its position as one of the nation's leading cinema chains to block moviegoers from seeing the film.

"Another Family" is about a real-life father's quest for truth about the leukemia death of his young daughter who had worked at one of Samsung's semiconductor plants for four years.

Since her death in 2007, the father has been involved in legal battles against Samsung and the Korean Workers' Compensation and Welfare Service, both of which deny any link between her work environment and her illness.

The production team and individual investors of the film as well as civic groups and an association of movie producers called a joint news conference on Wednesday to announce a plan to report the conglomerate-owned cinema chain to the Korea Fair Trade Commission the following day.

According to them, the movie has garnered a large number of advance ticket sales. Despite the movie's anticipated popularity, Lotte Cinema allocated only 21 out of its 99 theaters around the country to the film on the Feb. 6 opening day, according to the groups.

They also claimed the theater chain has even refused to sell tickets or rent theaters to group viewers and has screened the movie at unpopular hours of the day such as early in the morning or late at night.

"We have no evidence showing Lotte Cinema acted in such a high-handed manner in collaboration with Samsung Electronics but have no way to logically explain this situation other than suspecting it is the result of ties between chaebol," the groups said in a statement read during a news conference in front of one of Lotte's chain theaters in Seoul.

Despite the controversy, the film has attracted 387,788 viewers while being shown at about 140 theaters, including 32 of Lotte and 54 of CJ CGV, around the country as of Tuesday.

The movie has also drawn media attention for being the first South Korean commercial film to be entirely financed by private donations and crowd funding.

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