When Bong Joon-ho wrote and directed his first English-language film Snowpiercer, it became one of Korea’s most expensive productions at $42 million. Netflix has just backed Bong Joon-ho’s next film Okja to the tune of $50 million as the streaming giant looks to expand its footprint in the country when it launches in Korea next year. This makes the film one of the first Asian features to be financed by Netflix and comes just under the company’s biggest movie production budget to date: Brad Pitt’s $60 million military satire, War Machine.
As THR reports, Netflix isn’t the only production company backing Okja as Pitt’s Plan B Pictures will be co-producing as well. Here’s what Bong Joon-ho had to say about partnering up with Pitt’s banner, one of the production companies behind World War Z and 12 Years a Slave:
“I am looking forward to bringing in a mix of bold energy that has been unique to Plan B.”
“It really is a fantastic opportunity for me as a filmmaker. 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.”
This comes as great news since Snowpiercer had fantastic visuals and production design even considering the relatively small budget, but the post-production drama that occurred between Bong Joon-ho and The Weinstein Company ultimately hampered the film’s success. With a bigger budget and more creative freedom, I can’t even imagine what Okja is going to look like!
Currently starring in Okja are Tilda Swinton, Jake Gyllenhaal, Paul Dano, Bill Nighy and Kelly Macdonald. As the production looks ahead to a late 2016 start in New York and Korea, auditions are now underway for a young actress to play the lead role in the story, which is about the friendship between a girl and an animal named Okja. Okja is due out sometime in 2017.