'Pachinko' Picked Up to Series at Apple (Exclusive)

Soo Hugh_ Pachinko Cover_Split - Getty - H 2018
John Sciulli/Getty Images for AMC; Courtesy of Grand Central Publishing

Pachinko is moving forward at Apple.

The iPhone maker, ahead of its March 25 formal video announcement in Cupertino, California, has handed out an eight-episode series order to Pachinko. The title becomes the third series at Apple for Michael Ellenberg's Media Res.

The adaptation of Min Jin Lee's New York Times best-selling novel landed at Apple in August with a sizable script-to-series commitment following a multiple-outlet bidding war.

The book, one of the Times' 10 best of 2017 and a finalist for the National Book Award for fiction, chronicles the hopes and dreams of four generations of a Korean immigrant family. Described as epic in scope and intimate in tone, the story begins with a forbidden love and crescendos into a sweeping saga that journeys between Korea, Japan and America to tell the story of war and peace, love and loss, triumph and reckoning. The Apple drama, which comes with what is said to be a sizable premium show budget akin to Netflix's The Crown, will be told in three languages: Korean, Japanese and English. Sources say the series is among the biggest budgeted projects Apple currently has in the works.

Korean-American Soo Hugh (who oversaw on season one of the AMC anthology The Terror) penned the script, executive produces and serves as showrunner on the series. Author Lee will also be credited as an exec producer. Pachinko hails from Ellenberg's Media Res, which is also behind Apple's Reese Witherspoon-Jennifer Aniston morning show drama (the tech giant's entry into the scripted space) and the recently announced untitled Brie Larson CIA drama. Hugh was pursuing the rights to the novel at the same time that Media Res was doing the same. Media Res ultimately landed the rights for Hugh — who shared a vision for the series with the author to adapt the material.  Ellenberg will exec produce; the company's Dani Gorin will serve as a co-EP. As part of her deal for Pachinko, Hugh inked an overall deal with Media Res (the company's first-such pact). Sources say five outlets bid on the rights to the book.

Pachinko arrives as Crazy Rich Asians became a box office smash and pop culture hit. The feature film, based on Kevin Kwan's 2013 best-seller of the same name, is the first Asian-American-focused studio movie in 25 years. With its success, Crazy Rich Asians has opened the door for more culturally specific stories as it continues to reshape Hollywood. A sequel is in development. Pachinko, which will have an almost all-Asian cast as well, is tonally different from Crazy Rich Asians and is the more critically acclaimed of the two books. 

Pachinko becomes the latest high-profile TV project to land at Apple and joins a roster that includes series starring Chris Evans, Hailee Steinfeld, Sara Bareilles and Jennifer Garner and content from producers like J.J. Abrams, M. Night Shyamalan, Damien Chazelle and Ron Moore, among others.

Hugh and Lee are both repped by WME.