Netflix has revealed that films from across Asia-Pacific featured in its top 10 weekly global non-English film list for 51 out of 52 weeks in 2022.
At a Netflix APAC showcase in Seoul on Wednesday (March 22), Minyoung Kim, vice president of content (APAC excluding India), said that 2022 was “the best year yet” for features from the region, reflecting changing tastes and lowered barriers to foreign-language content.
More than 80 APAC films featured on the weekly global non-English film list in 2022 and features from the region made the weekly top 10 list in more than 90 countries. Titles from India, Indonesia and Korea were among those to claim the number one spot on the list last year.
These included Korean one-take action film Carter, which led the chart for several weeks in August following its release; Indonesian director Timo Tjahjanto’s action film The Big 4, which became Netflix’s most-watched non-English film in December; and Indian Oscar-winner RRR, which was number one for three weeks in May and June, as well as Indian psychological comedy horror Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2.
Ruchikaa Kapoor Sheikh, director of content for Netflix India, noted the global streamer maintained an emphasis on staying authentic and faithful to local audiences first and allowing directors more freedom to be creative.
“Even though a lot of our local titles travel globally, our focus is always local to local, and always for local audiences,” she said, pointing out this has been key to storytelling in India, which has shown “the highest viewing of films on Netflix globally”.
Local creators at the showcase of upcoming content included Thai director Sitisiri Mongkolsiri (Inhuman Kiss), whose upcoming suspense film Hunger is billed as “The Menu meets Whiplash”.
Although he initially had doubts about Netflix entering the Thai market, the filmmaker said: “In the last three to four years, we have seen that Netflix has truly helped those in the industry, especially through their best practices in production, so that we have enough budget and time to complete a high-quality film.”
Shinichi Takahashi, manager of content for Netflix Japan, introduced a trailer for zombie action comedy Zom: 100 Bucket List of the Dead. “Sometimes creators are limited by the environment. We want to remove this limit, so that the creators can maximize their imagination,” he said.
Upcoming films from Netflix APAC include recent Berlinale premiere Kill Boksoon, a Korean assassin action film starring Jeon Do-yeon, and Australian psychological horror Run Rabbit Run, which premiered at Sundance.
Run Rabbit Run director Anna McLeish noted Netflix’s global reach was an offset, despite the OTT release meaning the film would not receive a theatrical release. “Typically, it can take up to 18 months for an independent film to get around the world through film festivals,” she said. “With Netflix, you can get the film out to audiences in more than 190 countries pretty much simultaneously.”
Tjahjanto agreed that the reach and immediate intel provided by the streaming giant has been helpful. “Previously when films are distributed overseas in cinemas, we can’t really see how well it does,” he said. “With Netflix, I can see in real time how the film is working out in South Africa, Argentina or Thailand.”
Earlier this month, it was forecast that Netflix would spend $1.9bn on local content in APAC this year as group revenue from the region grew to 12%, according to a report by Media Partners Asia. The content investment spending figure represents a hike of 15%.