UPDATE—September 4: A DreamWorks Animation spokesperson tells Cartoon Brew that Variety’s story that we referred to as our source was “largely inaccurate.” The spokesperson further says:
While we are in the process of working with Studio Mir to finalize a possible production agreement for ONE series, we would be engaging the studio on a “work for hire” basis, meaning they are not co-producers nor will they gain any interest in DreamWorks’ intellectual property.
Read the original Cartoon Brew story:
South Korea’s Studio MIR, responsible for the animation in The Legend of Korra and the fourth season of The Boondocks, has signed a major deal with DreamWorks Animation to produce four animated series over four years. Each 2D animated series will consist of 78 episodes, Variety reports.
Studio MIR will co-produce and co-develop the shows, a notably atypical arrangement between a Korean and American company. For decades, Korean animation studios have performed service work on American concepts, but they have rarely participated in the creative development of content for American producers. “The contract between DreamWorks and Studio Mir is a landmark in that it is a partnership of equals,” said MIR founder Jae Myung Yoo. “This contract is a solid opportunity for the entire Korean animation industry to create a better workforce and infrastructure in the field of animation.”
The deal, however, shouldn’t come as a total surprise to industry observers. In a 2012 piece about Studio MIR, I noted how differently the studio behaved from traditional South Korean animation subcontractors: “Historically, Korean service studios have been content to remain anonymous, but Studio MIR represents the new young breed of foreign animation studios that make an effort to connect with the public and interact with fans.” The logical extension of their approach was to become involved in the creation of original content, though no one could have anticipated it would be in partnership with DreamWorks.
Details of the financing arrangement between the studios have not been made public. No details have been released about the content of the series or how they will be distributed, though it would be reasonable to assume that DreamWorks’ ongoing distribution deal with Netflix may figure into this somehow.