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Monday, October 21, 2013

Jeffrey Katzenberg and Dreamworks Prepping Korean-Style Animation?

It’s no secret that South Korea has for the last few decades been a wellspring for foreign animators to outsource their grunt work to, the most famous example being Matt Groening’s Simpsons franchise, but in the last few years South Korea has begun to come into its own. No easy task with the double juggernaut of Japan’s anime and manga industry right next door and the global proliferation of American pop culture. Yet works like Green Days: Dinosaur and I (2011) and Yeun Sang-ho’s powerful The King of Pigs (2011), though far from being commercially successful, bode well for the development of animators with an auteurist bent.

Of course, with all the film festival attention that pictures like The King of Pigs has gotten as well as the populist Leafie, A Hen into the Wild (2011) drawing in more than 2.2 million viewers, the largest domestic box office number for an animated feature in Korea, many foreign bigwigs are now looking to capitalize on this untaped market.

As Variety writer Nemo Kim reported, Jeffrey Katzenberg, the CEO of DreamWorks Animation, met with Korean auteur Bong Joon-ho on October 18th to talk shop at the CJ Global Creative Forum in Seoul. Discussions ranged from the differences between the American and Korean film industries as well as the emergence of new technologies like 3-D. Eventually the talk moved onto future projects and Katzenberg reportedly stated to the audience that Dreamworks is in the development stage of a film which would have “Korean elements.” When pressed by reporters he stated that:

“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… Great stories could come from any part of the world and great ideas are being discovered in Asia as well"

What might these new ideas be and exactly what elements is DreamWorks mining from Korea’s old past? Only time will tell but hopefully this East-West melding will result in something unique and not just a rehash of far better Korean films from the past.


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