More Asian talent in Disney's upcoming Theatrical and Streaming slate

Nathalie M. Tomada - The Philippine Star
More Asian talent in Disney's upcoming Theatrical and Streaming slate
Mickey Mouse is joined on stage by Luke Kang, The Walt Disney Company Asia Pacific president, in the opening ceremony for Disney Content Showcase in Singapore.
STAR / File

SINGAPORE — Over 50 “coming attractions,” including Asia-Pacific originals, were unveiled by The Walt Disney Company yesterday at the Disney Content Showcase APAC 2022.

Presented to the international media were first-look images and never-before-seen trailers for Disney’s theatrical and streaming content slate for 2023 and even 2024 from major studios Marvel Studios, Walt Disney Animation Studios, Pixar, Lucasfilm, as well as content for Disney+ and Disney+ Hotstar.

But one important highlight during the showcase held at the Sands Expo and Convention Centre was the presentation of the full slew of local content from Korea, Japan, Indonesia, Australia and New Zealand.

“This year, it was important for us to showcase the breadth of our global branded content from our award-winning studios and iconic franchises, as well as our APAC content slate for 2023,” said Luke Kang, The Walt Disney Company Asia Pacific president, in his opening remarks.

It was announced that Disney was committed to launching more than 50 Asia-Pacific or APAC originals by 2023 to expand the range of Disney+ offerings.

“Last October, at our first APAC Content Showcase, we made our first step into local content production with an ambitious, long-term plan to uncover the world’s best stories from this region, and to showcase creative excellence that can shine on the world stage,” Kang said.

Disney and Japanese publishing house Kodansha present Tokyo Revengers: Christmas Showdown Arc.

“Our aspiration is for these stories in the Asia-Pacific region to be a key pillar to the Walt Disney Company’s next 100 years,” he further said.

Walt Disney is celebrating its 100th year this year.

Day 1 of the two-day event saw celebrities in attendance, led by the cast and creative minds behind Disney’s APAC originals.

Among those who went up the stage to talk about their forthcoming works were Japanese director Miike Takashi, South Korean actors Jung Haein, Ko Kyungpyo and Kim Hyejun from the crime-fantasy thriller Connect; Lee Donghwi, Heo Sungtae and acclaimed director Kang Yunsung from Big Bet; Yuya Yagira, Riho Yoshioka and director Shinzo Katayama from Japanese drama series Gannibal; and Chelsea Islan from the Indonesian superhero series Tira.

Marvel co-president Louis D'Esposito teases more Asian talent in future Marvel films.

Worth-noting was the K-drama Big Bet, which was shot in the Philippines. The cast revealed they filmed in the country for three months and praised their Filipino production counterparts for being “cooperative.”

Mackenyu, who is perhaps best-known for playing the final bad guy Enishi Yukishiro in the live-action series Rurouni Kenshin Saish?sh?: The Final, also graced the stage for not one but two Disney+ projects — House of the Owl and Dragons of Wonderwatch.

Pixar’s director/animator/storyboard artist/voice actor Peter Sohn was also at the event to give an inside-look into his upcoming original feature film Elemental.

Filipino celebs like Mavy Legaspi, Kyline Alcantara, Khalil Ramos, Gabbi Garcia, Alodia Gosiengfiao, and the Belo-Kho family were also spotted at the Disney showcase.

Going by the forthcoming Disney slate, it wasn’t lost on the audience how there was more Asian talent figuring in front and behind the cameras.

With Marvel Studios, for example, there’s Marvels which also stars Korean star Park Seojoon alongside Samuel L. Jackson and Brie Larson.

In Lucasfilm’s Acoloyte, Filipino-Canadian actor Manny Jacinto stars in the Star Wars original series with Emmy-winning Korean star Lee Jungjae of Squid Game fame.

Sohn is an American filmmaker with Korean descent and he said his film Elemental is a tribute to his immigrant parents. He added that one of the film’s major themes is respect for the elderly and gratitude to “parents for the sacrifices they made for us.”

And there’s more Asian talent to come, going by the statement of Marvel’s co-president Louis D’Esposito, who said that their shows have to reflect how “the world is an incredibly diverse place.”

According to Disney, more than 45 new APAC titles had “sunrised” on Disney’s streaming service the past year, with several shows gaining commercial and critical success. Big Mouth, Soundtrack #1 and IN THE SOOP: Friendcation were among the top three “most-watched titles” in the majority of APAC markets in their premiere week. Disney also said that the total hours of locally-produced Asian content streamed on Disney+ is eight times more than it was a year ago.

Kang said, “We are focusing our content development on what we refer to as our content whitespace. Investing in areas that require more local specificity, either due to high popularity in select markets, like Japanese anime, K-dramas or Indonesia rom-coms and horror, or the need for local storytelling with talent that are familiar to our local audiences.

“We want to serve our viewers in every market with globally branded content like Disney, Marvel, Star Wars and Pixar, as well as locally produced stories that resonate with them, while also taking the best of those stories global.”

The Walt Disney Company Asia Pacific also announced yesterday the extension of its long-standing partnership with leading publishing house Kodansha to include Japanese anime. After working for seven decades in the publishing space, Disney and Kodansha will collaborate and venture into the world of anime. This “expanded collaboration” includes licensing exclusive SVOD anime titles based on manga produced by Kodansha, starting with Tokyo Revengers: Christmas Showdown Arc to launch exclusively on Disney+ and Disney+ Hotstar early 2023.

To date, Disney’s streaming services reach over 235 million subscribers across 154 markets worldwide.

The Disney showcase concluded with a lengthy 3-D preview of James Cameron’s much-anticipated Avatar sequel The Way of Water, which is coming to Philippine theaters on Dec. 14.


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