The Netflix film Okja, directed and co-written by Bong Joon-ho of Snowpiercer fame, has done well with both critics and audiences, despite a major boycott of the film by movie distributors in Korea.
Okja begins as a tale of a young girl, Mija, and her pig, Okja. Okja is a super pig: a bizarre, hippo-sized monstrosity that’s a far cry from the piglets of Babe and Charlotte’s Web. The story takes a dark turn as an ominous corporation seeks to reclaim Okja, while being opposed by both Mija and a rather whitewashed animal rights extremist group. In other words, it’s not exactly a film meant for children, despite its child protagonist.
The movie was slapped with a film distributor boycott in Korea after Netflix refused film distributors’ demands to delay the release of the film on Netflix; under Netflix’s plan, the film would open in theaters and on Netflix at the same time. On the few screens it did open on, Okja managed to pack the seats, resulting in a 4th place box office open.
Okja stands out as an original movie in an era where studios are churning out sequel after sequel. It stands as a part of Netflix’s efforts to create its own original content, drawing in filmmakers with the promise of greater creative control.
By T Kim