Netflix, Brad Pitt's Plan B Back $50M Korean Movie 'Okja'

Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP
Bong Joon Ho

Jake Gyllenhaal, Tilda Swinton, Paul Dano and Bill Nighy have been cast in the film by 'Snowpiercer' director Bong Joon Ho.

Netflix will invest $50 million in upcoming South Korean film Okja by Bong Joon Ho, local production company Okja SPC announced on Tuesday.

The film is one of the first features in Asia to be backed by the streaming firm, which is in the process of launching services across the region. Netflix is expected to launch in Korea in 2016.

A Netflix spokesman declined to comment on any financials. The streaming giant's biggest film bet to date is a $60 million investment in the Brad Pitt military satire War Machine.

“It really is a fantastic opportunity for me as a filmmaker,” Bong said in a statement. “For Okja, I needed a bigger budget than I had for Snowpiercer and also complete creative freedom. Netflix offered me the two conditions that are difficult to have in hand simultaneously,” he said. 

Snowpiercer, Bong's first English-language film, by Korea's CJ Entertainment (distributed in North America via Weinstein Company), was made for $42 million and remains one of the country's most expensive productions to date.

According to Okja SPC, Brad Pitt's Plan B Entertainment has also come aboard to co-produce the film. The company headed by Pitt was behind World War Z and 12 Years a Slave, as well as War Machine. Netflix invested in the latter.

"I am looking forward to bringing in a mix of bold energy that has been unique to Plan B," said Bong.

Meanwhile, Tilda Swinton, who starred in Snowpiercer, is set to have a role in Okja. Other cast members include Jake Gyllenhaal, Paul Dano and Bill Nighy.

Auditions are currently underway for a young actress to play the lead role in the story, about the friendship between a girl and an animal named Okja. Production is slated to begin in Korea and New York in late 2016 for a 2017 release.