• Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos announces the streaming service’s new and ongoing projects in 2019 during Netflix’s firstever content showcase in the region – “See What’s Next: Asia” held in Singapore./Netflix photo
  • The cast and crew of upcoming South Korean V series “Kingdom” actors, Ju Jihun (centre), Ryu Seung Yong (second right), writer Kim Eun Hee (second left) and director Kim Seonghun (far right)./Netflix photo

New eyes on Asia

movie & TV November 14, 2018 01:00

By PARINYAPORN PAJEE
THE NATION

10,746 Viewed

Netflix announces 17 new original series from the part of the world, two of them horror productions from Thailand



 All stories can be global stories, especially when they screen on a global platform like Netflix. And now two original Thai productions will be making a splash in the world, one directed by Sophon Sakaphisit, the other by Wisit Sasanatieng and Sittisiri Mongkolsiri

The projects were announced last week along with 15 other new Asian original productions at Netflix’s first-ever content showcase in the region – “See What’s Next: Asia” held in Singapore. 

Unveiled by Netflix chief executive and founder Reed Hastings and chief content officer Ted Sarandos, as well as performers and creators from Netflix series and films, the new productions are from Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, India and South Korea.

The first Thai series is titled “Khweng” (“The Stranded”). Directed by Sophon who works with GDH Film Studios, it tells the story of Kraam, an 18-year-old boy who survives a devastating tsunami along with 36 of his fellow students attending an elite private high school on a remote island in the Andaman Sea. As mysterious events start happening on the island, it quickly becomes clear that no one is coming to rescue them and Kraam must lead the others in a fight for survival. Sophon, whose previous films include “Phuan Thee Raluek” (“The Promise”) and “Laddaland”, will work with Netflix under GMM Grammy & H2L Media Group. The executive producers are Ekachai Uekrongtham, Gary Levinsohn, Steven Sims, Billy Hines and Christian Durso.

The second Netflix original content from Thailand is “Oubatikaan” (“Shimmers”). Directed by Wisit and Sittisiri, it’s a drama series focusing on five teenagers at an isolated school in Northern Thailand. Over a school break, they find themselves haunted by the ghosts of their pasts, only to discover they are threatened by a much more terrifying mystery. Both are established filmmakers working with Transformation Films Studio, with Wisit’s new horror offering “Singsoo” (“Reside:) slated for release on December 5. Sittisiri, whose previous film was “Last Summer”, is finalising his latest horror project “Sang Krasue” written by Chookiat Sakveerakul.

Netflix is the world's leading internet entertainment service with 130 million paid memberships in 190 countries and in 20 different languages. It brought its service to Asia in 2016 and has been investing in Asian content ever since. The fare has continued to gain in popularity, especially animations from Japan, South Korea, Japan and Taiwan. Indonesian content, particularly in the action genre, is also popular but for horror, Netflix has turned to Thailand. These two projects join 100 new and returning originals across eight countries in Asia through 2019 as Netflix increases its investment in Asian storytellers, amplifying their voices to the world. 

The announcements build on the momentum created by some of Netflix’s first forays into Asian storytelling this year with titles like the crime thriller “Sacred Games” (India), anime series “DEVILMAN crybaby” (Japan) and variety comedy “Busted!” (Korea), which is being renewed for a second season and will see Lee Seung-gi from “A Korean Odyssey joining the cast. Another series that has done remarkably well is the anime series “Trese” based on the Philippine graphic novel by the same name, created by Budjette Tan and Kajo Baldisimo. 

“These series and films are finding new fans everywhere. We are liberating access to entertainment and have removed the barriers of fixed television schedules and to language. Our different business models unlock content from anywhere in the world for the rest of the world and we’re constantly opening opportunities for creators in Asia,” Sarandos told The Nation. 

“Asia is home to the world’s greatest creative centres producing some of the most compelling films and series of today that easily connect with viewers all over Asia and the world,” he continues, adding that more than half of Asian content hours viewed on Netflix this year were watched outside the region.

Erika North, director of Original content APAC announces the first Thailand original series on Netflix "Khweng" ("The Stranded") by Sophon Sakdaphisit./Netflix photo

“Southeast Asia is a very diverse market and it's early days for Netflix here in Southeast Asia. Our focus is working with the great depth of talent in this region. It’s a hotbed for filmmaking and TV talent and there’s a great genre tradition in this part of the world – horror from Thailand, action from Indonesia, crime thrillers from Hong Kong and Taiwan –so really what we’re looking for are stories that haven’t yet been told in the long-form format,” says Erika North, director of Original content APAC.

“I believe viewers want a highly curated selection of great content so what we’re looking for are both the best-in-class shows and stories that couldn’t be told in the traditional system,” adds Kim Min-young, Director of International Originals at Netflix. 

The titles announced last week will join a rich library of Asian, Hollywood and international content on Netflix that’s matched to members’ personal tastes – in whichever language they prefer and devices they’re watching on, all without commercials or commitments.

“See What’s Next: Asia” also presented the fourth season of the hit series “Nacros” with a new chapter dubbed “Narcos: Mexico”. It will available on Netflix from Friday. Another highlight comes from actor-filmmaker Andy Serkis – the drama “Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle”. Serkis says that his Mowgli version tries to be true to the original story written by Rudyard Kipling and is darker than the other adventure versions that have been made. The film will have an exclusive limited theatrical engagement beginning November 29 and launch globally on Netflix on December 7.

A scene from the zombie series set in the Chosun era, "Kingdom"./Netflix photo

Another highlight is South Korea’s first original Netflix series “Kingdom”, which brings together cast and crew from screenwriter Kim Eun Hee’s TV drama “Signal” and is directed by Kim Seong-hun of “Tunnel” fame. The film stars Bae Doo-na, Ju Ji-hoon and Ryu Seung-ryong in a period thriller horror set in the Chosun dynasty where the Crown Prince (Ju) is sent on a suicide mission to investigate an outbreak caused by a zombie virus thought to have killed the king.

Fans of Korean zombie flicks have to wait until January 25 to watch “Kingdom”, which is presented in six episodes and will stream globally. Even though the series has yet to be released, chief executive Hastings underlined his conviction it would be a success by announce the season two renewal. 

Hastings also told participants that the variety of content on Netflix from movie to documentary, big or small shows, is going to expand, the result, he said, of internet development helping the streaming service prosperity. 

“This is what the Internet allows, first it’s on demand, second it’s personalization and third it’s bringing the world together through the sharing of content,” he says.

Animation fans were thrilled to hear that “Pacific Rim” would be returning and continue its focus on the epic battle between Kaiju and Jaegers. The series follows two siblings - an idealistic teenage boy and his naive younger sister - who are forced to pilot an abandoned Jaeger across a hostile landscape in a desperate attempt to find their missing parents.

The original Netflix series “Altered Carbon”, which launched earlier this year, will transform into an anime production, set in the same universe of the Netflix live-action sci-fi series. The animation will explore new elements of the mythology. 

Another new Asia original Netflix production us the Taiwanese original series “Triad Princess”. Growing up in the shadow of her Triad father, Angie craves an independent life of her own. Defying her father's wishes, she takes on a gig as an undercover bodyguard for a famous actress at an agency, where she must navigate the unfamiliar world of glitz, glamour and even love.