In 2013, South Korean filmmaker Bong Joon-ho made his English-language film debut with Snowpiercer, starring Chris Evans, Tilda Swinton, and Song Kang-ho. The film proved to be a major critical success, becoming one of the best reviewed films of 2013 (as well as having the distinction of being the most expensive Korean film made at the time with a $40 million dollar budget). While it wasn't a huge box office success, grossing around $86 million worldwide, response to the film was enough to create a lot of buzz for Joon-ho's next project, Okja.
While Snowpiercer focused on a post-apocalyptic world ravaged by climate engineering in an attempt to reverse the effects of global warming, Okja will focus on a fantasy-like animal named Okja and Mija, a young girl who attempts to protect the creature from an evil muli-national company. Now, Joon-ho has offered a first look at the upcoming Netflix film.
Thanks to EW, Joon-ho has released some storyboard art for Okja as well as a photo of Lily Collins in her role as the character Red. On how Collins' character fits into the storyline of Okja, Joon-ho said, "Red is part of a group of animal rights activists that figure into the story." Take a look at the images and storyboard art:
Joon-ho also elaborated on what Okja is actually about, confirming that he'll embed the same kind of deeper themes he touched on in Snowpiercer:
"On Wall Street, it’s the heart of capitalism. On the surface is a story about an animal, but it’s essentially a story about capitalism."
Some might remember hearing about Okja back before the premiere of season 7 of The Walking Dead, when the film cast Glenn actor Steven Yeun in a role, leading to rumors of the character's demise. While that eventually proved to be the case, Okja has generated quite a bit of buzz on its own merits, casting prominent actors like (once again) Swinton, Jake Gyllenhaal, Paul Dano and, of course, Collins. The lead, however, will go to young South Korean actress Ahn Seo-hyun as Mija, perhaps alluding that the film will have more non-English parts than Snowpiercer.
Being produced and distributed by Netflix is a positive for Joon-ho's film, as it offsets the pressure of performing well at the box office, instead opting for a long-term approach to viewing, thanks to the company's paid subscription platform. The star quality alone, mixed with the appeal of the writer/director's storytelling style, could help propel Okja to the status of Netflix's most critically successful film so far.
Okja is expected to release some time in 2017, but no exact release date is currently available.