The Netflix Originals to Watch Out For in 2019 (and for the Rest of 2018)

A zombie film from Korea, new anime based on Filipino graphic literature, and other highlights

Twenty years ago, Netflix existed as a DVD rental subscribription service that sent physical discs (remember those?) over snail mail (remember that, too?). Today it's not only a pioneer and still the dominant platform for online streaming, it is also arguably the biggest single producer of original content throughout the world.

To its credit, the global takeover of Netlix has also meant a shot in the arm for local film industries all over the world, as the streaming giant invests not only in Hollywood blockbusters, but also in progressive local content. At the recent See What's Next Asia conference, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings reiterated their commitment to original content from the region, unveiling a whole slate of Netflix Originals from India, Korea, Thailand, and Japan, presented alongside the big-budget Hollywood productions.

Among the highlights: action flicks from Martin Scorsese and Michael Bay, a new Narcos seriesa whole slew of anime based on material from different parts of the world (including the Philippines), and a historical drama-slash-zombie series.

Narcos: Mexico Mano a Mano

Instead of a new season of Narcos, showrunner Eric Newman instead made an entirely new series that occupies the same universe. Narcos: Mexico follows the story of the ambitious, empire-building Miguel Angel Felix Gallardo (Diego Luna) and the futile crusade of American DEA agent Kiki Camarena (Michael Peña) against the gigantic system Gallardo helped build. Launches on November 16.

Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle

    Andy Serkis has made a career out of his scene-stealing turn in the Lord of the Rings trilogy and pioneered the art of motion-capture cinema. Mowgli, which has been years in the making, is the pinnacle of the form, harnessing the talents of a cast that includes Cate Blanchett, Benedict Cumberbatch, Christian Bale, and Serkis himself. Child actor Rohan Chand, who plays Mowgli, is simply unforgettable in this role. The film will have an exclusive limited theatrical engagement beginning November 29, and launch globally on Netflix December 7.


      Kingdom Season 1

        It's a drama based on real events in Korean history—but with zombies. Think of it as Pride and Prejudice with Zombies, but with fewer laughs. This is high-octane nightmare fuel. Launches January 25, 2019. 


            Part celebrity variety show, part reality show, part Amazing Race, and part mystery room, Busted! is a uniquely Korean show that features some of the biggest Korean stars. Showrunner Chang Hyukjae announced Lee Seung-gi, from A Korean Odyssey, will be joining the season 2 cast.                    

            Umbrella Academy

            IMAGE: Netflix

            Is this going to be the next big superhero hit? Based on the award-winning comic book series by My Chemical Romance frontman Gerard Way, The Umbrella Academy is about group of superpowered individuals adopted into one big, unhappy family by a mysterious benefactor. The show stars Ellen Page, Mary J. Blige, Tom Hopper, David Castañeda, and Robert Sheehan. Scheduled to premiere on February 15, 2019.

            The Irishman

            If you need any further proof of Netflix's clout in the industry, consider the star power behind this upcoming mob drama based on the life and disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa: Martin Scorsese directs, while Robert De Niro stars as hitman Frank Sheeran and Al Pacino stars as Jimmy Hoffa. Netflix is teasing a 2019 release, though it hasn't announced a final date.

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            Six Underground

            Netflix brings together Ryan Reynolds, Michael Bay, and the writers of Deadpool for this high-profile, high-stakes big action film for 2019. According to some reports, Six Underground is outpacing The Irishman in terms of budget—as to be expected from Michael Bay. No details on plot yet, though rumors say that Reynolds stars a billionaire who fakes his own death.

            Always Be My Maybe

            This rom-com stars standup comedian Ali Wong and Fresh Off the Boat's Randall Park, who bring incredible comic timing and on-screen chemistry to their roles as childhood friends who have not spoken for 15 years. When they reconnect as adults, Sasha (played by Wong) is a celebrity chef opening a restaurant in her hometown, while Marcus (Park) is still a happy-go-lucky musician who hasn't grown up much. Directed by Nahnatchka Kahn, the show also stars Keanu Reeves, Michelle Buteau.

            Upcoming Anime Originals

            Pacific Rim

            Returning to the epic battle of Kaiju and Jaegers, this original anime series will expand upon the story of the first two live action movies and follow two siblings - an idealistic teenage boy and his naïve younger sister - who are forced to pilot an abandoned Jaeger across a hostile landscape in a desperate attempt to find their missing parents. Co-showrunners: Craig Kyle (Thor: Ragnarok) and Greg Johnson (X-Men: Evolution). Production Company: Legendary Entertainment (Kong: Skull Island; Pokemon: Detective Pikachu).

            Altered Carbon

            This anime feature, set in the same universe of the Netflix live-action sci-fi series (whose second season is in production from Skydance Television), will explore new elements of the story mythology. Writer: Dai Sato (Cowboy Bebop, Samurai Champloo) and Tsukasa Kondo. Animation Studio: Anima.


            Cagaster of an Insect Cage 

            Set in a post-apocalyptic world where a mysterious disease “Cagaster” turns people into giant murderous insects, this manga-based series follows the struggle of a young couple to stay alive. Directed By Koichi Chigira (Last Exile, Full Metal Panic!). Animation Studio: Gonzo (Hellsing, Afro Samurai).


            In a war-torn feudal Japan of mechs and magic, a retired ronin must take up his sword when he is charged with the task of transporting a mysterious child who dark forces want to eliminate. Created & Directed by LeSean Thomas (The Boondocks, Cannon Busters), who is also serving as Executive Producer. Grammy nominee Flying Lotus will compose the music and be an Executive Producer on the show. Lakeith Stanfield (Atlanta, Sorry to Bother You) will be the voice of the protagonist “Yasuke” (based on the historical samurai of African origin who fought with Oda Nobunaga). Animation Studio: MAPPA (Yuri On Ice, Kakegurui).


            Set in a Manila where the mythical creatures of Philippine folklore live in hiding amongst humans, Alexandra Trese finds herself going head to head with a criminal underworld comprised of malevolent supernatural beings. This anime series is based on the Philippine graphic novel by the same name, created by Budjette Tan and Kajo Baldissimo. Executive Producer: Jay Oliva (Wonder Woman, The Legend of Korra). Produced By: Shanty Harmayn and Tanya Yuson at BASE Entertainment, a studio based in Jakarta and Singapore.

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