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South Korea’s Studio MIR Signs Co-Production Deal With DreamWorks (Updated)


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.

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  • I’ve been a fan of Studio Mir from the beginning, so it’s great to see them stepping out and doing something of their own now that Korra is wrapping up. Also, I’m very glad to see Dreamworks being a bit more daring by heading in a 2D direction and letting Studio Mir have a creative say!

  • Ant G

    This is great news. I remember watching a documentary on animation studios in Korea and one of the issues they faced was being treated as a faceless and disposable studios just doing whatever companies in the US demand of them (along with how much they should get payed by those same companies). Studio MIR has great talent and should’ve been prized as a valuable asset a long time ago.

    I believe Turbo FAST was being produced both at Titmouse and Korea, I wonder if MIR was the company behind it and if they’re making it exclusively now?

    So great news for the animation community in Korea, though I can’t help it to say “but meanwhile in America…”

  • Steele Carter

    Wow. Very interesting! Can’t wait to see what Studio Mir creates! Should be fun! :)

  • Cyrus Vba

    Sounds nice, but knowing Dreamworks properties, it will be hard to make anything good with them(unless they put a lot of effort into it)

  • Joe Blow

    Dreamworks doing what they’re best at. Sending jobs bye bye …,,,,…,,

    • Kosse Moore

      They arent sending away jobs. All 2d animated shows are done outside of the united states. The only notable in house 2d studio we have is titmouse. If you really want to blame anyone for 2d jobs being scarce in the states, its the industry itself. Also id love to see studio mir actually have some creative input. So many of these korean studios create some of the best animated work and get absolutely no recognition. No offense but unless the cartoon is based off of a comic, or made by the creators of avatar, most american shows are kind of lame in plot.

  • John A.

    Yay more 2D jobs not in America :D

    • Mj Animo

      Great stuff is being made. As an artist you should be less selfish and more grateful that this beautiful work exists.

      • Jenny

        You must not be an artist who wants to work in the field for a living…

    • Fried

      Who even said that America should be the only place to even produce animation in the first place?

      This weird entitlement that Americans have about “jobs” that aren’t even theirs to begin with is weird.

      We live in a modern period where international exports and imports are a regular part of living and business, why are people still bent on thinking like we’re in the 20’s?

      • Dave

        Good for Studio Mir. Love their work and I’m glad they are prospering. No one is saying that the U.S.A. is the “only place to produce animation” , but the issue is that this wonderful “modern period with international exports and imports” doesn’t EVER flow the other way … animated shows that originate from large U.S.-based entertainment companies like Dreamworks and Disney, etc. are always outsourced to Korea , Canada, China, or India, but there is no work from those countries being outsourced to the U.S. for animation production. Outsourcing has KILLED traditional 2D animation production in the U.S. Writing, storyboarding, concept art , character design is made in the U.S.A, but actual animation production is always outsourced, so there is no work for animators . The only exception being Flash-based shows from studios like Bento Box and Titmouse , but in terms of traditional hand drawn animation there is nothing.

        • jonhanson

          Work rarely flows from overseas to the US but profits flow this way, so I don’t feel justified in complaining.

      • Mak

        Have you seen your job get shipped overseas? If the production is being financed by a US company then why shouldn’t Americans get a chance at those “jobs”?

        • Kosse Moore

          Because the industry seems to only care about 3d work in america. On the other hand i am excited for this becase studio mir is a an extremely talented studio. They did an amazing job with the legend of korra. So honestly i cant complain. As an animator myself all i can say is, if we want see more 2d animation being handled in the states then we have to start making it ourselves. Just look at titmouse. But its like everyone has to do what disney is doing, if disney only makes 3d animated films, thatn everyone else in the industry has to do the same thing, its quite pathetic.

    • Kosse Moore

      You realize all 2d shows you see are animated outside this country right? This has been going on for years. Im talking like since the 80s lol.

  • Ravlic

    Wow. Not only are they 2D series, they have 78 episodes each? That seems like a massive amount of work for shows that no-one knows anything about yet. Also I’m surprised this happened after Korra’s been showing a consistent and significant drop in viewers. Korra’s made plenty of unbelievably crappy story decisions, but I’m surprised that someone at Dreamworks had the intelligence to recognize the interest of the public in seeing something like Avatar again despite Korra’s disappointing execution. I mean, we’re talking about Dreamworks, the studio that thinks the answer to their mediocre features failing at box office lies in greenlighting “Hot Stuff” and “Captain Underpants”.

    Now, it’s Studio MIR so they will certainly use the anime style but I shudder to imagine what the animation will look like when they have to animate so many episodes. I just hope the 78 episodes are worth it and aren’t just an excuse to milk money out of a by-then dry and dead cow. Since it’s a more complex style, I really hope that means the series will be chronological like Avatar. However, I have low expectations that whatever story they have will manage to stay interesting for that many episodes. So yeah, low expectations on creativity, low expectations on story, low expectations on animation. But I can’t help but be excited, who knows what the result will actually be?

    My biggest fear is that they’re working on another Monsuno. Please don’t be working on another Monsuno.

    • Raspyberry

      Studio MIr =/= Michael D. DiMartino, Bryan Konietzko & their writing + directing staff.

      Here’s a link to the artists of Studio Mir

    • To my knowledge Korra has been doing much better online since the move (comparatively). Since supposedly they’re letting Studio Mir have a creative say in what’s going on, I think the results will be much better than Dreamworks would do on their own.

  • Mowalski

    Loving The Legend of Korra and it warms me to see Studio Mir getting the recognition it deserves, but I pray to God these won’t be more movie spin-offs. I had high hopes for Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness as a 2D-animated television series, but Dreamworks ultimately let me down when it turned out to be (really bad) CG. They should focus on creating something entirely new, hopefully with quality animation and storylines like Korra.

    • I think Dreamworks would have warned us if we were getting more Pandas, Dragons and their ilk. It’s the compassionate thing to do, at least.

    • nick

      Studio Duncan did like two episodes of awesome 2D animated kung fu panda for a DVD special I believe. I think Studio Duncan is hurting though. Their FB feed is nothing but “Check out this work we did back in 2004”

  • Kelp

    As far as business acumen, Dreamworks is slitting what’s left of its own throat.

    • Jonathan Jean-Louis

      I”m curious, but what do you mean by that?

      • nick

        1.“Movies Are Not A Growth Business”, Jeffrey Katzenberg
        2. Fire a whole bunch of employees
        3. Outsource all of their contracted animations

        4.Open a new studio in china
        5. Start a youtube channel for kids animation

        It seems like they are trying to act more like a network than an animation studio now?

  • starss

    78 episodes.

    78 episodes.

    Unless each one is 5 minutes long, this continued Dreamworks’ habit of over-estimated, ridiculous news announcements!

  • Jonathan Jean-Louis

    Very good news! Studio MIR creates good animation. Hopefully, some good TV might come off of this collaboration.

  • nick

    I wonder if Variety got permission from the artist to use that fan art image as their banner for the article. Write an article about outsourcing animation work and use an artists work without giving credit. talk about a double kick in the nuts.

  • Jax

    I heard they are doing a Mr. Peabody and Sherman show, which should be interesting.

  • Raspyberry

    Your complaints on narrative have little to do with Studio Mir.
    Art style, art direction and animation are applicable for criticism..which you eventually did bring up.

    Anyways, for all we know DWA & Mir might be leaning more towards Boondocks than Avatar.

  • starss

    That was more 65-season deals, not 78.

    • I know, but I was only speculating here what they were doing here (unless it’s going to be a once-a-week thing the way they may debut these shows but I really don’t pay much attention to these things.

    • Just reminded myself the “Marine Boy” series from the 60’s was 78 episodes long the way it was produced and syndicated at it’s time, but of course that was almost 50 years ago, but that only happened because a US company forked the dough to get that show made to start with.

      • starss

        Lesean Thomas just made clear that the news is false.
        1.) There won’t be 4 shows, just ONE.
        2.) MIR is more on a work for hire deal, which sounds like they’re not as involved creatively as we thought.

        3.) Neither side has finalized any of this yet.

  • nick

    Yeah thats its. They are really amazing . I actually got to tour the studio and see some previews of the animation breakdowns for it. Super intense combination of tradition animation and after effects. I hope so too. Maybe 2D animation will find another life on streaming networks like Netflix? It already seems like it might be happening. The Awesomes on Hulu, Turbo Fast, Bojack Horseman, dreamworks/mir for netflix. I know amazon has like 3-6 kids cartoons made for their amazon video streaming service. I cant wait for these video streaming services/sites to start making more and more of their own content to lure in new viewers.

  • nick

    So how many hours of the 300 hours of animation has dreamworks produced so far for Netflix? By my count we have 13 hours of turbo fast. I have seen several articles talking about what series dreamworks is making for Netflix next and here is the list King Julien(Madagascar), Puss in Boots, Veggie Tales in the House, The Croods, Shrek, Dinotrux and of course the How To Train your Dragon series that is switching from CN to Netflix. Anything I’m missing/or am misinformed on? Also at 78 episodes and 4 series thats 312 episodes altogether.

  • lesean thomas

    Dreamworks Animation updates on that report, claiming it’s false. Studio Mir’s press release to local journalists in Korea have been erroneous. Studio Mir isn’t doing 4 series, just 1. And they still haven’t finalized the deal. Also, they are on an OEM (work for hire) basis for this one show, not co-producing. They own no interest in DWA’s IPs. Reported here:

  • Santosh OOmmen

    They’re doing Voltron. With Joaquin De Santos and members of the Korra team. 2d animation with 3d robots! Lets hope they tell some good stories!

  • Lili

    Was excited until I got to the part about the co-producing and development… I love the work Studio Mir does and think this partnership will give us some great animation, but as a bitter, unemployed animator, this is pretty disappointing for me to read…

  • D. Harry

    Aww look at their happy faces. Shame I’m out of work and not smiling.

  • Ms.GammaRay

    Shrek the Anime
    Coming Soon…

  • Vincent Tilghman

    I had a debate with a teacher. He argued I wouldn’t be doing this if I wasn’t paid for it. I exclaimed I’m doing it now and I’m not being paid I’m the one paying. I’m sure if they wanted to they could find Americans to do the same work Last time I checked 1 Won is more than a Dollar, and the cost of living is closer than one would expect.

  • george

    I really hope these are original series that aren’t based on past Dreamworks stuff.

  • Deb

    Perhaps Dreamworks is getting some of that new California state incentive production money and using it to finance jobs outside the U.S. Probably next to be revealed….

  • Kosse Moore

    One thing you really dont understand about this industry is that, alot of these networks and companies are focused on 3d animated work(which is done in the states). 2d animation has become a niche thing. So many of these higher ups dont want to spend the money to higher american animators because it cost more. If we want to see a change, animators are going to have to form their own studios and put out heir own work. Weve seen this with studios like titmouse, but we need more to follow suit.