Warner Bros. is jumping deeper into the Asian market, in South Korea, where the domestic box office booms. The major will finance and handle Korean distribution for Kim Jee-woon’s “Secret Agent,” a 1930s period drama centered on an organized South Korean uprising during the days of Japanese colonialism in the country.
Kim is a cult filmmaker known internationally for uber-violent genre films from the gruesome “I Saw the Devil” (which is getting a US remake from director Adam Wingard) to his first and only English-language effort, 2013’s “The Last Stand” starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. Kim’s affectionately weird spaghetti Western homgae “The Good, The Bad, The Weird (2008) made good money at the South Korean box office, which last year became the sixth top market in the world, grossing over $1.5 billion.
Looking at the numbers, South Korean audiences tend to flock to films by their own countrymen, though North American titles including “Avatar,” “Frozen,” “Interstellar” and Michael Bay tentpoles were widely seen hits.
Warner Bros. isn’t the first American studio to foray into this territory. Fox Korea has set up bankable productions, including last year’s “Slow Video.” “Secret Agent” is expected to begin shooting in October in Southeast Asia, and will star Kim’s frequent collaborator Song Kang-ho of “Snowpiercer,” “The Host” and “Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance” fame.
This news first appeared in Variety.