Bong Joon Ho’s Parasite on Sunday became the first foreign language film to win Oscar for Best Picture. The Korean import also became the first film to win Best Picture with a TV series adaptation already in the works.
At the onset of the awards season, when Parasite was a hot upstart but an Oscar Best Picture long shot, HBO landed a Parasite limited series. The in-demand Bong was heavily courted by streamers, including Netflix, which distributed his previous movie before Parasite, Okja. He chose to go with HBO, teaming up with Succession executive producer Adam McKay, who is under a first-look deal at HBO/HBO Max.
Bong and McKay, both Oscar winners, started discussing ideas about what the series would look like a few weeks ago, I hear. There has been chatter that Mark Ruffalo is being considered for a role. Any casting buzz is very premature as Bong and McKay are ways away from talking to actors, but Ruffalo did not deny that there may have been an overture. “I’d be honored to be able to play something” in the Parasite series, he told TMZ Monday.
Shortly after the Golden Globes, where Parasite won the Foreign-language film award, word of the series adaptation got out. Conventional Oscar campaigns have contenders keeping any pending TV projects under wraps until after the Academy Awards for fear of jeopardizing their chances. But television is no longer considered features’ inferior sibling. And Parasite is not your typical Oscar contender.
The TV series news did not hamper the film’s chances, and Parasite, distributed by indie NEON, walked away with four Oscars — all won or shared by Bong — best picture, director, writing and international picture.
There are only a couple of Best Picture Oscar-winning films that have spawn TV series, all done years after the movie had won the Academy Award. The very short list includes In the Heat of the Night and Crash. None has had the original creative minds behind the movie as deeply involved as Bong is in the HBO series. (Another of Bong’s movies, Snowpiercer, is being done as a TV series at TNT with other auspices.)
In interviews during the final phase of the Oscar campaign Bong explained that the series, likely six hours in length, will not be a straight remake of the film but will include a lot of additional material and stories he had developed for Parasite that could not fit into a two-hour movie.
Directed by Bong and written by Bong and Han Jin Won, Palme d’Or winner Parasite revolves around the members of a poor family who together scheme to work in a wealthy household by posing as unrelated, highly qualified help. The movie has become a global phenom, grossing $165M worldwide so far ($35.5M in the U.S.) with one of the most talked about movie endings in years.
The film’s awards season success has raised awareness and interest in the film, which is expanding its theater count following the Oscar sweep. The movie’s growing popularity also is increasing anticipation for the series and the pressure for it to live up to the high standard set by Bong’s big-screen marvel.