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SEOUL – Jeffrey Katzenberg says a large portion of Turbo, DreamWorks Animations’s recent endeavor to expand into television, is being produced in South Korea, a fast growing market for animation.
“DreamWorks has been on a very aggressive course of diversification in the last 18 to 20 months and our latest is in television,” he told reporters Friday. “Because of the amazing amount of work we are undertaking under our current Netflix deal, we will be producing our own TV shows in every corner of the world.”
The film version of Turbo was toplined by Ryan Reynolds, who voiced an animated snail obsessed with racing. The film stalled at the U.S. box office but was one of the most successful animated films of the year in Korea.
Katzenberg said “a sizable piece of the production” for the TV adaption of Turbo is taking place in Korea, marking the first time DWA has brought a production to the country. Katzenberg spoke with reporters ahead of attending a forum centering on technology in the creative industry.
“The animation industry here in Korea is growing very rapidly and is becoming a very important force in the country and also in the rest of the world. You can see it in the enterprise Pororo,” he said, referring to the Korean penguin TV cartoon that has sold to over 120 countries and is airing around the world.
CJ Entertainment is behind the distribution of Pororo and the opening of the forum, where Katzenberg will discuss various topics with Korean filmmaker Bong Joon-ho (Snowpiercer). CJ in 1995 was a founding investor in DreamWorks SKG. Paramount later bought their stake.
“Nineteen years ago when Steven Spielberg, David Geffen and I started DreamWorks, there were really two people that made that dream come true, one of which is Miky Lee,” he said of CJ’s vice chairperson, also known as Lee Mi-kyung.
Katzenberg said looking to Asia is an important part of DreamWorks’ growth.
“The next step is to become a family-branded entertainment company that has many opportunities. So television, consumer products, location-based entertainment, international markets — these are the greatest opportunities.”
He also looks to Korea for creative inspiration.
“There is a very specific story that comes out of a historical or maybe mythical Korean element, but we can’t share details at this time,” he said.
Though DWA may deliver content in different formats such as mobile, one thing will remain the same, Katzenberg said: “It’s about bringing laughter.”
During the forum to be held Friday at Sejong University, Bong and Katzenberg will discuss East-West dynamics as the entertainment industry becomes more global and technology continues to advance. Katzenberg and Jennifer Yuh Nelson, director of Kung Fu Panda 2, will also take part in a cartoon pitching event for students.
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Tracee Ellis Ross