In time for reboots, remakes and sequels, Wattpad Webtoon is aiming to bring more original stories to Hollywood and combat that franchise bloat. As told by Aaron Levitz, president of Wattpad Webtoon Studios Diversity, the goal is to show production banners and media platforms that loyal webcomic and series fans will tune into their TV adaptations of those titles. And so far, it’s working.
The Webtoon-adapted K-drama “Sweet Home” on Netflix and the Wattpad-original young adult film series “The Kissing Booth” have given the company an early boost in entering Hollywood. And now, the recent appointment of former Fox Entertainment and AMC Entertainment president David Madden as head of global entertainment is another example of the company’s move to further expand its entertainment industry presence.
Levitz said, “We are better and stronger with two large IP libraries that unite with many stories and more than 166 million people worldwide come to our platform monthly to create, interact and engage with ”
Combined, Wattpad Webtoon Studio has over 100 on-screen and publishing projects in development or production. The studio division of Wattpad – the origin story platform known for its widespread fanfiction – and WebToon, the original webcomics platform, joined forces shortly after both platforms were acquired by South Korean Internet conglomerate Naver in May 2021.
As of June, Naver had pledged $100 million to the global multi-format studio umbrella to develop and produce fan- and data-driven TV shows, movies and books.
“Too often, the traditional industry doesn’t allow new names to come through in storytelling,” said Levitz, who had been with Wattpad since 2017. Execution, which focused on democratizing how new literary talent was being discovered and supported within the company, was tapped last summer to lead the merger of the studio divisions of Wattpad and Webtoon.
“It’s amazing that I can work with a diverse group of writers from around the world telling the stories they want to tell,” Levitz said.
Wattpad Webtoon Studios’ story-to-screen projects already in production include “Float” with Robbie Amell (“Upload”) and Lionsgate with Andrea Bang (“Features Kim”); “The QB Bad Boy and Me” starring TikTok sensation Noah Beck with Creator Plus; “Perfect Addiction” produced by Jeremy Bolt at JB Pictures and Robert Kulz of Constantin Film; “Gremoryland” with Roy Lee’s Vertigo Entertainment; and the webtoon comic “Lore Olympus” read by over a billion people with the Jim Henson Company.
In addition, Wattpad Webtoon Studios has creative partners Paramount Global, Fremantle and Leon Film Group to cook more television and film content, among others.
Studio Umbrella has already seen the fruits of its labor with the adaptation of Ariana Godoy’s Wattpad Spanish-language YA romance novel “A Traves de Mi Ventana” (“Through My Window”) on Netflix. Starring Clara Galle, Julio Pea Fernández and Guillermo Lacheras, the film rose to the top 10 ranks of non-English global movies streamers for three months after its February 2022 premiere. Netflix picked up the film for two more sequels, the filming of which has already begun.
“Original content has increased with the growth of the Internet and mobile formats,” said Ken Kim, CEO of Webtoon Entertainment. “By embracing that wave, we’ve created equality for creators everywhere and made it a healthier and more comfortable place for all. That diversity has been the origin of market acceptance.”
Switching IP from Wattpad and Webtoon to streaming series and movies was a natural development for both companies, each of which had already successfully dived into screen space from different stories.
“The Kissing Booth,” was adapted by Netflix into a film trilogy starring Joy King, Jacob Elordi, and Taylor Zakhar Perez from Beth Rickles’ Wattpad novel of the same name, beginning with the first installment in 2018. Was. Hulu’s “Light as a Feather” based on the Wattpad thriller by Zoe Aarons and produced by AwesomenessTV, Wattpad Studios and GramNet, was nominated for ten Daytime Emmy Awards over its two-season stretch on streamers between October 2018 and October 2019. .
“There are already millions of people waiting to see the adaptation,” Kim said. “I think this is part of the content development that will continue to happen. In Asia, we have already become a well-known content platform with a major push for customization.”
For example, Webtoon’s current partnership with anime, manga, and dorama distributor Crunchyroll has led to highly rated shows based on titles from its platform, such as “Noblesey,” “The God of High School” and “Tower of”. God.”
Netflix apocalyptic K-drama “Sweet Home” debuted in December 2020. Webtoon-originated “Sweet Home” was renewed for two more seasons after 22 million subscribers watched it in the first month of its release. “Sweet Home” became the streamer’s first original South Korean series to break into the top 10 trending ranks in the US (at one point, peaking at number 3) and was in the top 10 in more than 70 countries.
“I think there is power in stories that are interesting and creative,” Kim said, noting that audiences around the world are completely hungry for original content, whether it’s animated or live-action shows and movies that are available on webtoons. Or be based on Wattpad’s extensive libraries.
Kim and Levitz (with readers eager to see their favorite webcomic or story come to life) believe that integrating studio divisions into one and leveraging fan loyalty can harness the full Hollywood potential of a company’s portfolio. Revealed.