South Korea, a hotbed of contemporary cultural fervor, is to get a significant new development and production company headed by veteran studio executives. The new venture, Covenant Pictures starts operations with solid financial backing, a diverse slate, and a first-look deal with the producers of the hit “Along With The Gods” movie franchise.
Covenant sees itself scouring Asia for IP that will be developed and produced as Korean-made films and TV series. Relationships in East Asia could cast the net wider, in future.
Covenant is co-founded by Lee Young Han and Justin Choi, both former GMs of Lotte MediaWorks (previously Lotte Cinema), Korea’s second-largest vertically-integrated movie conglomerate. Lee has production and film finance experience managing over 90 titles while at Lotte, while Choi’s focus was on international affairs, acquisitions and marketing. Choi was also the territory GM for Paramount Pictures’ sub-distribution relationship in Korea.
“Korea is the most exciting and dynamic entertainment market in the world today. Covenant Pictures is designed and built to bring together competitive original IP, co-production opportunities with first-class Korean talent, and valuable global strategic partnerships,” Choi told Variety.
To kick off the venture in a high gear, the pair have secured the strategic backing of Taiwanese investor and distributor Cai Chang International, which has credits including “Along With the Gods” and the recent “OK! Madam”, and Purple Plan, a 20-year old Southeast Asian regional distribution company headed by Singapore-based Violet Kwan.
The backers have taken minority equity stakes in Covenant and may subsequently choose to be involved in the production finance of Covenant movies and series as they are fully packaged. Cai Chang and Purple Plan may also work with Covenant on local content in Taiwan, Singapore, and Vietnam.
The first-look co-production deal with Blaad Studio gives Covenant an enviable springboard. The company was founded by Kim Yong-hwa, director behind a string of commercially successful Korean films including “Take Off,” “Mr Go,” “200 Pounds Beauty,” and “Along With The Gods: The Two Worlds,” and “Along With The Gods: The Last 49 Days.”
“I have great expectations on Covenant Pictures’ management. I wish we could work together on various projects moving forward and have opportunities for both companies to grow,” said Kim in an emailed statement. Kim is currently in pre-production on Korean tentpole “The Moon.”
Covenant has already moved ahead with development of a handful of projects derived from IP including novels, webtoons and existing movies. These include: book-to-film adaptation “A Spy From North Korea Goes to School”; “One,” a webtoon that was a 2020 winner of the KOMACON award and which has over 65 million viewers; original script, “Bari,” about a woman who has been repeated by reincarnated for a thousand years, but who now finds herself moored in the present; and a brace of film remakes.
“Our ambition is to develop and produce Korean films and series based on verified and proven IP. We will also discover and work with young talented writers who understand current trends among global youth audiences, and together develop competitive original stories,” said Lee.