Netflix and Bong Joon-ho Team Up For Creature Feature OKJA
Big news for Korean film fans today as both Netflix and Plan B have confirmed their participation on Bong Joon-ho's Okja. The English-Korean monster feature has already lined up a very impressive cast, with Tilda Swinton, Jake Gyllenhaal, Paul Dano, Bill Nighy and Kelly MacDonald currently on board, while auditions are underway for their Korean cast mates.
In a statement, Bong said that "For Okja, I needed a bigger budget than I had for Snowpiercer and also complete creative freedom. Netflix offered me the two conditions that are difficult to have in hand simultaneously." With his $40 million Snowpiercer, Bong already set a record for the most expensive Korean film of all time but it sounds like he will break his own benchmark with his latest, which is being pegged at $50 million.
Okja is the name of a monster in the film, which the director describes as a "bulky animal, but with a mild and kind spirit." Elaborating, he writes "The film is about a warm friendship between a country girl and a brute with stories. To me, the crazy world surrounding Okja and the girl looks more like a monster. I want to depict the two characters' bizarre journey and adventure across the tough world in an original fashion."
Though Snowpiercer performed well on VOD and with critics in America, Bong's frustrations with The Weinstein Company over the film's final cut were well documented. Netflix, which will invest, can ensure the film's wide availability. Plan B, Brad Pitt's production company, is coming on board as a co-producer, alongside Lewis Pictures (Haemoo).
Currently in pre-production, Okja will go before cameras in April in Korea and New York, with dialogue split evenly between Korean and English. The film is expected to see the light of day in the first half of 2017. The film marks Netflix's first collaboration with Korea, where it will begin operations next year.