Bong Joon-ho first popped up on American movie fans’ radar screens in 2006 with his unconventional, and at times outright satirical, monster movie The Host. In 2013, the director expanded his reputation for creating off-the-wall, imaginative and challenging genre films with his high-concept dystopian sci-fi action flick Snowpiercer. Now Bong Joon-ho is back with another intriguing, off-beat project: the adventure film Okja, which is set to be released by Netflix.
In Okja, a young girl named Mija must go up against an evil corporation to protect her best friend, a fictional mountain-dwelling beast. The Okja teaser trailer gives us just a glimpse of the film and its titular animal, and movie fans were very intrigued as evidenced by the clip’s reported one million views in Korea alone, 3.6M globally.
Perhaps spurred on by the interest in the teaser, Netflix has now announced that Okja will not only stream on their service starting in June but will get theatrical releases both in South Korea and the United States. According to Variety, the movie will receive a limited day-and-date release in the U.S. while also streaming in 190 countries. Netflix reportedly has invested $50 million in the film, which was made in conjunction with Brad Pitt’s Plan B studios.
The teaser for Okja promises a very different take on the monster movie than Bong Joon-ho’s The Host, whose rampaging title creature served as a metaphor for all sorts of dangers including (somewhat controversially) the continued presence of the U.S. military on Korean soil. Okja seems to promise a more tender relationship between the creature and the young girl, again unlike The Host – which dealt with a family trying to rescue one of its own from the clutches of a more traditional, completely unfriendly monster.
Besides the apparent genre trappings and a likely very strong environmental message, Okja also is set to feature another memorably weird performance from Tilda Swinton, who made a very strong impression as the deranged Mason in Snowpiercer. Okja receives a further boost of star-power from Jake Gyllenhaal, Lily Collins and Paul Dano, while the lead role is reserved for young Korean actress An Seo Hyun. Steven Yeun, known for having played Glenn on The Walking Dead, also appears.
One never knows quite what to expect from Bong Joon-ho, a filmmaker who loves starting with a standard genre idea and then expanding it into something unique and quirky and often dealing with family-related themes, alongside its socio-political metaphors. Those who wish to enjoy the filmmaker’s vision on the big screen, or who just like to watch Tilda Swinton being really weird, will doubtless be glad to hear that Okja will indeed be getting some kind of theatrical release in the U.S.
Okja debuts on Netflix on June 28th, 2017.