Anyone with a screen knows that Netflix is changing the entertainment landscape. Ever since they rolled out their first original program, House of Cards, just four years ago, the streaming conglomerate has gone on to garner both fan and critical acclaim — they even won their first Oscar this weekend, with doc short The White Helmets. Now, with Netflix looking to generate more original programming than ever, the company is focusing its production efforts on films. The streaming company has added some of the brightest filmmaking talents to their repertoire, including one international standout.
South Korean filmmaker Bong Joon-ho shook the world with his 2013 post-apocalyptic feature Snowpiercer, starring Chris Evans as a tortured rebel trying to upend the class system on a hellish train. The South Korean and Czech co-production hit big in America and garnered a loyal following, leading American fans excited to see what’s next from the visionary director. Bong’s follow-up directorial project is Okja, a Netflix-produced feature that combines sci-fi and action-adventure. Though we’ve been following the movie for some time, from casting news to exciting production shots, we hadn’t really gotten a first look at it — until now.
Today, Netflix unveiled their first teaser for Okja, and it features a familiar face from Snowpiercer. Tilda Swinton plays the glossy blonde Nancy Mirando, the movie’s apparent antagonist, who tries to kidnap the animal Okja. Protagonist Mija (Ahn Seo-hyun), who has befriended the otherworldly creature, must work to save her companion. The trailer also reveals a summer premiere date for the film. You can catch the captivating teaser, featuring a sneak peek at the beast, above.
Swinton played the unforgettable Minister Mason in Snowpiercer, and it looks like she’s stepping into another brutal, high-class role here. In previous reports, director Bong described Mija as a “country girl,” so perhaps this will be another film that, like Snowpiercer, uses dystopian themes to grapple with class relations. Fans who were excited about this potentially being a monster movie will likely be disappointed, though — while Bong famously directed monster-horror hit The Host, it looks like Okja offers a more tender look at the relationship between human and beast.
Okja looks like a promising feature, and will definitely draw in cult fans of Snowpiercer and sci-fi aficionados alike. What remains to be seen is whether or not Netflix can generate a film that’s a real commercial hit. Though some of their original films have garnered critical acclaim — most notably documentary 13th and feature Tallulah — Netflix has yet to produce a universally popular film. At the same time, the production company is may just be looking to elevate more esoteric films. If so, more power to them for straying from the franchise/sequel/adaptation Hollywood norm.
Judging by this teaser, Okja could be another cult hit or a universal crowd-pleaser. The film appears to address relatable themes in a unique way, so it could easily draw in a wide range of viewers. Will Okja will achieve the same oddball status as Snowpiercer, or could it captivate a wider audience? We’ll just have to find out this summer.
Okja premieres on Netflix on June 28.