Netflix isn't huge in Asia like it is elsewhere in the world, but the streaming giant hopes to break through with a collection of new Asian originals.
- Netflix announced a collection of Asian originals on Thursday, including "Pacific Rim" and "Altered Carbon" anime shows.
- Netflix has yet to break through in Asia, and hasn't exceeded more than 2 million customers in any Asian market.
- Netflix already streams the Indian original "Sacred Games," and plans to focus heavily on the country with this new initiative, including eight new original films.
Netflix is a streaming giant, but it has yet to break through in the most populated region in the world: Asia.
Netflix has over 130 million subscribers, but it has not exceeded more than 2 million customers in any Asian market, according to Bloomberg. The company hopes to change that with a collection of new Asian original series and films it announced at its first content showcase event in the region on Thursday and Friday, called "See What's Next: Asia."
Most of the series announced on Thursday were anime (a style of animation that originated in Japan). They include a series based on Guillermo del Toro's giant robot-vs.-giant monster movie, "Pacific Rim," and one based on the Netflix original sci-fi series that debuted this year, "Altered Carbon."
But of the 17 new originals, the movies hail mostly from India. Eight new Indian original films and one series were announced on Friday, including a film starring Dev Patel ("Slumdog Millionaire," "Lion") called "Hotel Mumbai." Netflix is betting hard on India in the region, as it can't operate out of China without a local partner. The originals will follow a prequel to"Baahubali," the highest-grossing franchise in Indian history, and "Sacred Games," Netflix's first Indian original series which is already streaming.
"Sacred Games," though, highlights some hurdles for Netflix. The show has faced legal trouble because of its allegedly unflattering depiction of India's former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. A petition was filed in Delhi High Court this year for Netflix to delete any references to him. A woman also accused Vikas Bahl, who co-founded the production company behind for the show, of sexual harassment. After an independent investigation, Netflix decided to move forward with season two.
The 17 Asian original films and series announced on Thursday and Friday are below, with descriptions provided by Netflix:
Indian Original Series
- Typewriter is about a haunted house and a haunted book that stir the imagination of a group of young, wannabe ghost hunters, and a dog, determined to capture the ghost that plagues the notorious home in their neighbourhood in Goa. When a new family and their captivating daughter move into the haunted home, the crew finds it difficult to balance the demands of school and chores with the renewed urgency to capture the neighbourhood ghost before it is too late.
Indian Original Films
- Chopsticks is about an under-confident but talented girl, sidestepped at every stage of her life, who seeks out an enigmatic con to help recover her stolen car from a goat-loving, crazy Mumbai gangster. In the process, she finds her confidence and place in the sun. Along with Mithila Palkar who won hearts in Netflix series Little Things 02, Abhay Deol and Vijay Raaz will act in the film. "Chopsticks" is produced by Ashvini Yardi of Vineyard Productions and directed by Sachin Yardi.
- Bulbul, produced by Anushka Sharma and Karnesh Sharma’s Clean Slate Films, is a period piece set in a vibrant atmosphere amidst age-old beliefs and superstitions. Satya and his brother’s child bride, Bulbul, were inseparable until he was sent to England for his education. On his return, he finds Bulbul has been abandoned by his brother and now lives a solitary existence as the enigmatic lady-of-the-palace, dedicating herself to the welfare of the people. But their ancestral village is plagued by mysterious deaths and stories of a haunting by a woman who lives in the trees. Satya must find the truth behind the lore and save his village from the evil “chudail with the inverted feet”.
- Upstarts is a bromance about three college graduates from small-town India, captivated by the startup mania sweeping the country. As they enter the rollercoaster startup ecosystem of big dreams, big money and bigger sharks, they are faced with a big choice – their dreams, or their friendship. Directed by Udai Singh Pawar, "Upstarts" is produced by Raja Menon, Janani Ravichandran and Jawahar Sharma of Bandra West Productions. This film is supported by real-life heroes from the startup world in Bengaluru.
- Cobalt Blue, based on the best-selling novel of the same name, is the story of a brother and sister who fall in love with the same man, and how a traditional Marathi family is shattered by the ensuing events. This story brings out the pain and the beauty of forbidden love, and is written and directed by Sachin Kundalkar.
- 15th August, produced by Madhuri Dixit, is set in a Mumbai chawl, and follows the course of a single day as its residents prepare for the flag-hoisting ceremony. This Marathi film is about the struggles of middle-class India and in a soaring climax, it is about how love sets us free.
- Music Teacher, directed by Sarthak Dasgupta, is a story about an emotionally troubled music teacher, essayed by Manav Kaul, who gets a chance to come to terms with his bitterness with an estranged student, now a renowned celebrity singer of Bollywood. The music teacher vows to get back everything he lost in the past risking all his achievements in the present day.
- Hotel Mumbai tells the astonishing true story of the victims and survivors of the devastating attacks on Mumbai in 2008. The film directed by Anthony Maras stars Dev Patel, Armie Hammer, Nazanin Boniadi, Anupam Kher, Jason Isaacs. This film is available on Netflix in the SAARC region only.
- Firebrand, directed by Aruna Raje and produced by Priyanka Chopra, "Firebrand" is a Marathi Film that follows a successful lawyer, a sexual assault victim played by Usha Jadhav, as she tackles difficult family cases while also dealing with intimacy issues in her own marriage. Girish Kulkarni essays the role of her husband Madhav Patkar, an architect by profession. Sachin Khedekar and Rajeshwari Sachdev play a couple in the movie which is high on drama.
- Pacific Rim: Returning to the epic battle of Kaiju and Jaegers, this original anime series will expand upon the story of the first two live action movies and follow two siblings – an idealistic teenage boy and his naïve younger sister – who are forced to pilot an abandoned Jaeger across a hostile landscape in a desperate attempt to find their missing parents. Co-showrunners: Craig Kyle ("Thor: Ragnarok") and Greg Johnson ("X-Men: Evolution"). Production Company: Legendary Entertainment ("Kong: Skull Island"; "Pokemon: Detective Pikachu").
- Altered Carbon: This anime feature, set in the same universe of the Netflix live-action sci-fi series (second season in production from Skydance Television), will explore new elements of the story mythology. Writer: Dai Sato ("Cowboy Bebop," "Samurai Champloo") and Tsukasa Kondo. Animation Studio: Anima.
- Cagaster of an Insect Cage: Set in a post-apocalyptic world where a mysterious disease “Cagaster” turns people into giant murderous insects, this manga-based series follows the struggle of a young couple to stay alive. Directed By Koichi Chigira ("Last Exile," "Full Metal Panic!"). Animation Studio: Gonzo ("Hellsing," "Afro Samurai").
- Yasuke: In a war-torn feudal Japan of mechs and magic, a retired ronin must take up his sword when he is charged with the task of transporting a mysterious child who dark forces want to eliminate. Created & Directed by LeSean Thomas ("The Boondocks," "Cannon Busters"), who is also serving as Executive Producer. Grammy nominee Flying Lotus will compose the music and be an Executive Producer on the show. Lakeith Stanfield ("Atlanta," "Sorry to Bother You") will be the voice of the protagonist “Yasuke” (based on the historical samurai of African origin who fought with Oda Nobunaga). Animation Studio: MAPPA ("Yuri On Ice," "Kakegurui").
- Trese: Set in a Manila where the mythical creatures of Philippine folklore live in hiding amongst humans, Alexandra Trese finds herself going head to head with a criminal underworld comprised of malevolent supernatural beings. This anime series is based on the Philippine graphic novel by the same name, created by Budjette Tan and Kajo Baldissimo. Executive Producer: Jay Oliva ("Wonder Woman," "The Legend of Korra"). Produced By: Shanty Harmayn and Tanya Yuson at BASE Entertainment, a studio based in Jakarta and Singapore.
Thai Language Originals
- The Stranded: 18 year old Kraam survives a devastating tsunami along with thirty-six of his fellow students at an elite private high school on a remote island in the Andaman Sea. As mysterious events start happening on the island, it quickly becomes clear that no one is coming to rescue them and Kraam must lead the students to rescue themselves. Director: Sophon Sakdaphisit. Production companies: GMM Grammy (this will be the first Netflix original series since the GMM Grammy multi-title deal) & H2L Media Group. Executive Producers: Ekachai Uekrongtham, Gary Levinsohn, Steven Sims, Billy Hines, Christian Durso.
- Shimmers: A drama series about five teenagers at an isolated school in Northern Thailand. Over a school break, they find themselves haunted by the ghosts of their pasts, only to discover they are threatened by a much more terrifying mystery. Directors: Wisit Sasanatieng and Sittisiri Mongkolsiri.
Chinese Language Originals
- Triad Princess: A Taiwanese original series. Growing up in the shadow of her Triad father, Angie craves an independent life of her own. Defying her father's wishes, she takes on a gig as an undercover bodyguard for a famous actress at an agency, where she must navigate the unfamiliar world of glitz, glamour and even love. Key Cast: Eugenie Liu and Jasper Liu. Director: Neal Wu; Production Companies: mm2 and Goodfilms Workshop.