Paramount unveils first Korean series as part of streaming expansion

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Paramount Global, the media conglomerate formerly known as ViacomCBS, has announced a slate of international and local-language series for its streaming service Paramount+, including Korean sci-fi drama Yonder, to be directed by Lee Joon-ik.

Produced with Doodoong Pictures, Korean media conglomerate CJ ENM and CJ’s streaming platform TVing, the series is part of a wide-ranging pact between Paramount and CJ ENM that was announced in December 2021. It will premiere on TVing later this year and stream on Paramount+ in Latin America, Canada, Australia and major European territories. 

Set in 2032, the series revolves around a man who receives a message from his deceased wife, inviting him to the unknown space, Yonder, designed for the dead to be able to live on by uploading memories of their lifetime from their brain. It explores questions about life and death and what happiness means in an age where humanity is confronted by unprecedented advancements in technology.

ViacomCBS announced the company is changing its name to Paramount Global on the same day as a three-hour investor presentation, focused on its global streaming service Paramount+, on February 15. 

The studio also said Paramount+ will become the streaming home for all new Paramount Pictures movies in the US following their theatrical runs beginning in 2024. The service is already available in Latin America, Canada and Australia and will expand to more than 60 markets including all major European markets and South Korea by the end of this year. In France, it will launch through a new partnership with Canal+ Group.

Paramount’s upcoming film slate includes various installments of its popular franchises A Quiet Place, Sonic The Hedgehog, SpongeBob SquarePants, SEAL Team, Star Trek, Teen Wolf,  Transformers and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, with some movies expected to debut theatrically and some on Paramount+. 

On the series side, English-language originals include Land Man, starring Billy Bob Thornton as a crisis manager for an oil company; Lioness, starring Zoe Saldana as a CIA station chief; Tulsa King, starring Sylvester Stallone, and two UK series – Sexy Beast, based on the hit cult classic film of the same name, and an adaptation of the Amor Towles novel A Gentleman In Moscow, written by Ben Vanstone (All Creatures Great And Small). 

International series also include psychological crime drama Simon Beckett’s The Chemistry Of Death, produced out of Germany and filmed in the UK; and two Mexican shows – Los Enviados, starring Luis Gerardo Méndez (Narcos Mexico) and Miguel Ángel Silvestre (Velvet) as priests investigating a miracle, and the second season of Cecilia. Paramount Global is already involved in international production through its Viacom International Studios (VIS), which operates in 20 countries and 15 languages.

During the investor presentation, the studio said it aims to reach 100 million streaming households worldwide by 2024, at which point it will be spending $6bn on direct-to-consumer content.