After weeks of speculation, Netflix has finally confirmed it is financing Korean helmer Bong Joon-Ho’s $50 million Okja, starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Tilda Swinton, Paul Dano, Bill Nighy and Kelly Macdonald. Brad Pitt and Dede Gardner’s Plan B co-produces what promises to be one of Netflix’s first, but far from last, Asian film investments as it seeks to expand its SVOD business around the world.
Bong Joon-Ho previously mixed Western and Korean talent in Snowpiercer.
“It really is a fantastic opportunity for me as a filmmaker,” said Bong Tuesday. “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,” he said.
Snowpiercer cost $42 million and remains one of the country’s most expensive productions to date. TWC released it domestically. Okja follows the friendship between a girl and an animal named Okja. Production is slated to begin in Korea and New York in late 2016 for a 2017 release.
Netflix has already made some investments hoping to attract Asian audiences, including the Weinstein Co’s TV series Marco Polo as well as the Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon sequel.