Doubling down on the race for streaming subscribers in Asia, Disney's slate includes a diverse range of local-language titles from South Korea, Japan, greater China, Indonesia and Australia.
The Walt Disney Co. unveiled an impressive array of content firepower Thursday to drive subscriber growth for Disney+ as the streaming wars heat up in the vast Asia-Pacific region.
At a splashy online showcase event hosted out of its Asia offices, Disney announced 18 local-language Originals to be produced over the coming year in territories including Japan, South Korea, Indonesia, greater China and Australia. The titles span both series and film, and feature a diversity of genres, ranging from scripted drama to anime, comedy, fantasy, romance, science-fiction, crime, horror, variety shows and documentaries.
Highlights from the Disney+ APAC slate include a strong selection of Korean titles, such as a documentary about K-pop super group BLACKPINK; Moving, a tentpole Korean action series about teens with mysterious powers; and a pair of anticipated K-drama romances, Snowdrop and Rookies. Predictably, the regionally and globally popular content category of Japanese anime also features prominently in Disney’s plans, with shows on the way like Summer Time Rendering, based on a best-selling manga of the same name. And from China, Disney has greenlit the food-themed period rom-com Delicacies Destiny, from Yu Zheng, the hitmaking producer behind period drama sensation Story of Yanxi Palace. (The complete list of Disney’s APAC originals slate is listed below.)
Disney’s bold content expansion in APAC was long anticipated, and the splashy showcase comes at a time when the scramble for streaming subscribers and market share in Asia — home to half of the world’s six largest economies — is only accelerating. Disney said the slate shared Thursday is a first step toward the company’s goal of greenlighting over 50 APAC originals by 2023. The importance of the region to U.S. streaming companies, both as a pillar source of subscribers and globally appealing content, has been underscored in recent weeks by the smash success of Korean thriller Squid Game, which is on its way to becoming Netflix’s most watched piece of content ever.
“For many decades, The Walt Disney Company has been entertaining consumers and has been an integral part of the local creative ecosystem,” said Luke Kang, Disney’s president in Asia Pacific. “Today, we are making another commitment by combining the global resources of the company with the best content creators from Asia Pacific to develop and produce original stories on Disney+. With over-the-top services going mainstream, emergence of world-class content from Asia Pacific and rising consumer sophistication, we believe that this is the right time for us to deepen our collaboration with the region’s best content creators to deliver unparalleled storytelling to global audiences.”
Disney+ is a little over midway through its rollout in the region, with the service already available in Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Singapore, India, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand, and upcoming launches set for South Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan in November. In its most recent earnings statement in mid-August, Disney reported that Disney+ had added 13 million subscribers for a global total of 116 million, narrowly beating Wall Street forecasts of 115 million.
During the presentation, Disney also showcased its Star streaming bundle — which includes a larger library of content from Disney Television Studios, FX, 20th Century Studios, 20th Television and Touchstone — as the brand is set to bolster the Disney+ content offering in key Asia markets, such as Japan, in the weeks ahead.
“Our production strategy is centered on working with the best local storytellers in the region, leveraging our brand power, scale and dedication to creative excellence,” said Jessica Kam-Engle, Disney’s APAC head of content and development, who talked through company’s new APAC content slate in detail. “We look forward to collaborating with award-winning and emerging creative talent in Asia Pacific and sharing authentic stories that reflect the unique cultural and social dynamics from this region to global audiences.”
See below for Disney’s complete Disney+ APAC originals slate.
BLACKPINK: The Movie
Director: Oh Yoon-dong, Jung Su-yee
Starring: Jisoo, Jennie, Rosé and Lisa
Summary: A film specially created to celebrate the chart-topping Korean pop group BLACKPINK’s fifth anniversary. BLACKPINK: The Movie includes never-seen-before interviews and over 10 sets of live performances including BLACKPINK’s recent concerts “The Show” in 2021 and “In Your Area” in 2018.
Director: Park In-je
Writer: Kang Full
Starring: Ryu Seung-ryong, Han Hyo-joo and Zo In-sung
Summary: Moving is the ultimate tentpole show based on the webtoon that has generated over 200 million views. An action hero thriller, Moving is a great story of three teenagers concealing their superpowers and their parents who have lived with painful secrets facing great danger over generations.
Director: Kim Byung-soo
Writer: Lee Ha-na
Starring: Kang Daniel and Chae Soo-bin
Summary: A coming-of-age, romantic series set in Korea’s elite police academy, Rookies is full of stories with love and challenges that we all root for. This is K-pop idol Kang Daniel’s drama debut. Watch how a team of first-year police recruits come together to pursue their dreams as they learn what it takes to serve and protect the community.
Director: Jo Hyun-tak
Writer: Yoo Hyun-mi
Starring: Jung Hae-in and Jisoo
Top Korean actor Jung Hae-in and BLACKPINK’s Jisoo team up on this Korean hit series, told by the creators behind the 2019 K-drama megahit Skycastle. Snowdrop is a romantic melodrama series and a heartwarming story of a young couple set in Seoul in the late 1980s. The two fall in love and find themselves caught in a tangled web of intrigue and upheaval.
Director: Lee Khan
Writer: Lee Su-yeon
Starring: Seo Kang-jun, Kim A-joong and Si-young
Summary: Following the highly acclaimed series Stranger, award-winning writer Lee Su-yeon has a new tentpole series, Grid. A mysterious being, who saved mankind from a crisis, suddenly reappears and helps a murderer. This mystery thriller follows a government official and a detective who tenaciously delve into many secrets and find the truth.
Kiss Sixth Sense
Director: Nam Ki-hoon
Writer: Jun You-lee
Starring: Kim Yoon-Kye-sang, Seo Ji-hye and Kim Ji-seok
A woman with the ability to see the future with a kiss, accidentally sees her future and that of her boss, who she despised. This lighthearted and witty romantic drama has been adapted from a popular original web novel of the same title.
Outrun by Running Man
Starring: Kim Jon-kook, HAHA and Jee Seok-jin
Brand-new missions, more fun and relentless challenges! The original members who have been together for 11 years — Kim Kim Jon-kook, HAHA and Jee Seok-jin — take on the first official spinoff of SBS’s Running Man, one of the region’s most popular and long-loved variety shows.
Tokyo Mer Mobile Emergency Room
Director: Aya Matsuki
Writer: Tsutomu Kuroiwa
Starring: Ryohei Suzuki, Kento Kaku and Ayami Nakajyo
Set against the backdrop of a newly created MER unit, two doctors with opposing ideologies and beliefs find themselves unwittingly taking part in a much larger political game while saving their patients’ lives.
Lost Man Found
Director: Tsuyoshi Inoue
Writer: Shin Adachi
Starring: Taiga Nakano, Tsuyoshi Kusanagi and Sairi Ito
Based on a best-seller from publishing house Bungei Shunju, Lost Man Found is a real-life story of a popular sidekick actor in a hilarious yet true-to-life comedy, where we witness his struggles to achieve fame and meet the love of his life.
Starring: Yuya Yagira
A dark, modern-day horror set in the rural parts of Japan. A policeman, who has a wife and daughter, becomes Chuzai (residential police chief) at the Kyokamura village after the previous Chuzai goes missing. He slowly unravels a horrid rumor about cannibalism taking place in the village.
Black Rock Shooter Downfall
Writer: Makoto Fukami
Black Rock Shooter is a media franchise based on an illustration by huke, a world-famous Japanese illustrator, that has spawned music, action figures and a video game. In this animation, Black Rock Shooter has been reborn as a completely new anime, with scriptwriter Makoto Fukami, best known for his work with Psycho-Pass and Resident Evil: Vendetta.
Summer Time Rendering
Based on a hit Japanese manga written and illustrated by Yasuki Tanaka. This suspense manga is one of the top performing titles on Jump+ with a viewership of more than 130 million. Something is brewing on the secluded summer island in Hyogashima — what mystery awaits Shinpei? You’ve got to find out.
Yojohan Time Machine Blues
A new animated series based on award-winning writer Tomohiko Morimi’s sequel to The Tatami Galaxy. It’s a mystery and a romantic comedy, set on a sweltering midsummer day where you get to travel back in time.
A planned anime adaptation of Twisted-Wonderland, Disney’s highly popular mobile game on Aniplex.
Susan Sinyal — The Series
Director: Bene Dion Rajagukguk
Starring: Asri Welas, Abdur Arsyad, Arie Kriting, Kevin Julio and Kiky Saputri
From the hit movie with the same title produced by Starvision, a comedic drama series about a group of hotel employees suddenly having to manage a classy resort hotel in West Java.
Virgin — The Series
Director: Monty Tiwa
From Starvision, a spinoff of the 2004 hit movie of the same name. This teen thriller-drama tells the story of a group of high schoolers making an investigative documentary in the hope of solving the mystery behind the death of a popular girl from school.
Wedding Agreement — The Series
Writer: Archie Hekagery
This series is based on the best-selling novel that was adapted into a movie by Starvision in 2019. The series revolves around Bian and Tara, following their arranged marriage.
Creator: Risa Saraswati
Director: Awi Suryadi
Risa and her cousins take something from an abandoned house, which leads them to be haunted by something dangerous. Now they have to race against the clock to save themselves before it’s too late.
Director: Kimo Stamboel
From Rapi Films and the incredible mind of Kimo Stamboel comes this horror series about black magic. What would you do to protect your family against black magic, even when you discover deep dark secrets that will test your very soul?
Keluarga Camera — The Series
Director: Ismail Basbeth
A spinoff from the same TV series everyone knows from 1996 and the hit movie adaptation of 2019. A heartwarming show about a family from Jakarta now living in a small town in Indonesia. There will be lots of conflicts and lessons but the show ultimately shows how love from our friends and family makes us reach our full potential.
Series Creator: Joko Anwar
The first series developed from a Disney partnership with Bumilangit, a leading character-based entertainment company in Indonesia, with a deep library of superheroes. Tira is about a young woman who gets superpowers after accidentally stumbling upon an ancient force.
Small & Mighty
Director: Xu Fu-Xiang
Writer: Xu Chen, Wang Hui Zhu
Starring: Chen Bo-Lin and Puff Kuo
Co-presented with Bilibili and produced by Jason’s entertainment, the production company behind hit drama Someday or One Day, this is a lighthearted legal drama.
Director: Gun Hao
Writer: Yu Zheng
Starring: Wang Xing-Yue and He Rui-Xia
A delicious Chinese period drama combining food and romance. Following the success of Story of Yanxi Palace by veteran producer You Zheng, this is his newest endeavor into food rom-com.
Women in Taipei
Director: Robin Lee
Writer: Wang Qing-qing
Starring: Jacob Wang and Gwei Lun-mei
A spinoff from Women in Tokyo, this project is Golden Horse winner Gwei Lun-mei’s first return to a starring role in a series after 12 years.
Joy of Life 2
Writer: Wang Juan
The highly anticipated romantic period sequel to the No. 1 show in China, Joy of Life. Produced by Disney partner New Classic Media, the story continues from where it left off, following a man from the 21st century with knowledge of the modern world, who is reborn in a medieval land.
Director: Wang Jun
Starring: Huang Lei and Zhou Xun
Produced by the same crew behind hit drama Nothing but Thirty, this is a captivating story on the struggles and challenges that come from getting divorced and remarried during different stages of life.
Ejen Ali Season 3
A continuation of the hit Southeast Asian animation franchise. The newest season travels to the futuristic city of Cyberaya with secret agents undertaking impossible missions. A co-production with Primeworks and Wau Animation.
Shipwreck Hunters Australia
Director: Brendan Hutchens
The first Disney+ documentary from Australia and New Zealand. Filming is taking place off Western Australia’s vast coastline, the resting place for an estimated 1,600 shipwrecks.