With Walt Disney Animation Studios, Pixar, Lucasfilm, and Marvel Studios among its subsidiaries, the Walt Disney Company has risen to be one of the leading providers of blockbuster hits, esteemed franchises, and animated classics worldwide.
As it celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2023, the entertainment conglomerate is aiming to tap more local audiences by expanding its collection of originals from the Asia-Pacific region.
“Our aspiration is for stories from the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region to be a key pillar for the next 100 years,” Carol Choi, Executive Vice President of Original Content Content Strategy, told members of the press during its Content Showcase at the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore. “Our curated content from APAC is a key part of the unparalleled storytelling and creative excellence from the region on the world stage.”
In 2022, the hours of locally-produced Asian content that was streamed on Disney+ grew eightfold compared to its 2021 statistics. And with the streaming platform being accessible to more Asia-Pacific regions (Disney+ was only made available in the Philippines on November 17), the company is confident that their target of 50 APAC Originals by 2023 will only gain more commercial and critical success.
Luke Kang, President of The Walt Disney Company Asia-Pacific, added that their venture into local content production is a means to “showcase creative excellence that can shine on the world stage.”
He continued that the “investing in areas that require more local specificity” such as Japanese anime, South Korean dramas, and Indonesian rom-coms and horror series, is Disney’s way of “serving [their] viewers in every market” with “locally produced stories that resonate with them.”
Here’s some original titles from the APAC region that will be available on Disney+:
Disney+ is set to exclusively stream several upcoming anime series, including Murai in Love, a romantic-comedy series based on the manga by Junta Shima; sci-fi series Synduality; an original project from South Korean director Park Sung-hoo that has the working title Project Bullet/Bullet; and Phoenix: EDEN17, the latest from Osamu Tezuka’s Phoenix series.
The streaming platform has also expanded its long-standing collaboration with publishing house Kodansha to venture in the world of anime. Yoshinobu Noma, Kodansha’s Representative Director and President, shared that the collaboration will give way for more beloved anime titles to be available worldwide, while Choi added that the expanded collaboration will be a “game changer in Disney’s future animation strategy in Japan.”
The collaboration’s first project will be Tokyo Revengers: Christmas Showdown Arc, which will be launched exclusively on Disney+ and Disney+ Hotstar in January 2023.
Aside from anime projects, Disney+ also has several live-action series under its belt:
- Gannibal, a psychothriller live-action series based on the hit manga of the same name, is co-produced by Teruhisa Yamamoto and Tatsuya Iwakura. It revolves around the dark and mysterious disappearances in a remote village in Japan. “Gannibal is a thriller that will leave audiences gasping with shock after every episode. But it’s also a human story that reflects upon the differences between family values and culture that, at a glance, seem so contradictory and yet so relatable,” producer Yammoto said.
- Directed by Kentaro Hagiwara and produced by Teruhisa Yamamoto, Hitoshi Ito, and Hideyuki Wakuta, Dragons of Wonderhatch is a fantasy series that combines live-action and anime elements It tells the story of a high school girl who struggles to fit in with her classmates before being meeting a boy from another world who will forever change her life.
- Starring Min Tanaka and Mackenyu, House of the Owl follows a revered Japanese fixer who has the ability to guide his clients such as politicians and business leaders through any scandal.
Six original titles from Indonesia are coming to Disney+:
- Hubungi Agen Gue! (The Talent Agency), an Indonesian adaptation of the hit French series Dix Pour Cent (Call My Agent!), is a dramatic comedy series that follows four agents from a talent agency as they struggle to keep the business afloat following the death of the company’s founder.
- Wedding Agreement: The Series will be returning for a second season. It is set three years after the events in the first season, and will star Refal Hady as Bian and Indah Permatasari as Tari.
- Mendua (Between Two Hearts) is the Indonesian adaptation of the hit British series Doctor Foster. It will star Adinia Wirasti, Chicco Jerikho, and Tatjana Saphira.
- Tira is a modern fantasy live-action series that tells the story of a stuntwoman, portrayed by Chelsea Island, that is stricken with a death curse. It is produced by renowned Indonesian filmmaker Joko Anwar and directed by Zahir Omar.
- Teluah Darah (Blood Curse), which stars Mikha Tambayong and Deva Mahenra, revolves around a young woman whose life changes after witnessing her family fall under a black magic attack.
- Jurnal Risa (Risa’s Journal: From the Danur Universe) follows a group of cousins who spend their summer break practicing a forbidden ritual that leads to one of them becoming possessed. It is based on the story by Risa Saraswati and produced by Manoj Punjabi and directed by Awi Suryadi.
Australia and New Zealand
The following titles are announced to be part of Disney+’s content from the Australia and New Zealand region:
- The Clearing is a psychological thriller based on the acclaimed novel In The Clearing by J.P. Pomare. According to its official synopsis, it tells the story of a “buried trauma and the effect of being raised under the oppressive spell of Adrienne, a rare female cult leader.”
- The Artful Dodger is an eight-episode scripted series that “explores the adult double life of Charles Dickens’ famous prince of thieves – The Artful Dodger – now a surgeon, who can’t shake his predilection for crime.”
Hallyu lovers are in for a treat as Disney+ has a loaded lineup for 2023 that includes K-dramas, variety shows, and documentaries on K-pop idols:
- Moving is based on the popular webtoon by Kang Full and revolves around three teenagers who discover that their secret agent parents have passed on unusual superpowers to them. It stars Ryu Seung-ryeong, Han Hyo-joo, and Jo In-sung.
- The Worst of Evil stars Ji Chang-wook, Wi Ha-jun, and Lim Se-mi. The crime drama series is set in 1990s South Korea and follows an undercover officer who tries to infiltrate a new criminal organization.
- Soundtrack #2 is a romance-drama series that revolves around two music enthusiasts who attempt to rekindle their relationship after falling in love in college and eventually breaking up after they graduated.
- The Zone 2: Survival Mission will see the return of variety veterans Yoo Jae-sook, Lee Kwang-soo, and Kwon Yu-ri as they challenge themselves to survive several everyday disaster scenarios.
- Crime mystery series Shadow Detective is also returning for a second season with bigger stakes and an even harder final case.
- Race is a drama series written by acclaimed screenwriter Kim Roori. It follows a mediocre employee who finds out she was hired by the top-tier publicity company for diversity reasons, and decides to unleash her potential. It stars Lee Yeon-hee, Moon So-ri, Hong Jong-hyun, and Chung Yun-ho.
- Starring Lee Sung-kyoung and Kim Young-kwang, Call It Love is a romance drama series that follows a mistreated daughter who plans to take revenge on her unfaithful father’s mistress, but eventually falls in love with the mistress’ son instead.
- Connect is a crime-thriller series that stars Jung Hae-in, Ko Kyung-pyo, and Kim Hye-jun. It follows a man who is kidnapped by a gang of organ harvesters, and realizes that he is still able to see out of his missing eye and heal from any injury.
- Big Bet stars Sohn Seok-gu, Lee Dong-hwi, Choi Min-sik, and Heo Sung-tae. It tells the story of a man who is willing to risk everything he has to fulfill his goal of becoming a casino mogul.
- Super Junior: The Last Man Standing will feature K-pop veterans Super Junior as they look back on their 17-year career and the state of the modern K-pop industry.
- NCT 127 The Lost Boys is a documentary following K-pop boy group NCT on their world tour across North America, Japan, and Southeast Asia as they recall the group’s growth over the years.
- BTS Monuments: Beyond the Star will chronicle the success of K-pop legends BTS through never-before-seen footage and insights from the BTS members.
- A solo documentary featuring BTS member j-hope as he prepares for his solo album and 2022 Lollapalooza performance is also in the works.