A feature-length fully-animated version of smash hit Korean series “Yumi’s Cells” will launch next month at the European Film Market in Berlin. International rights to the property were picked up by Barunson E&A, part of the Korean Barunson conglomerate that also produced Oscar-winning live-action film “Parasite.”
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“Yumi’s Cells: The Movie” is a 3D feature animation based on the popular Naver webtoon series of the same title that debuted in 2015. Production of the film is by Locus Animation (formerly Sidus Animation), which was previously responsible for “Red Shoes and Seven Dwarfs” and Studio N, a subsidiary of Naver Webtoon. The film is currently in post-production and will be delivered later this year.
Locus’s latest work, “Exorcism Chronicles: The Beginning” is also debuting at the EFM.
“Yumi’s Cells” revolves around an office worker Yumi and the myriad of cells inside her brain – such as Rational Cell, Emotional Cell, Anxiety Cell, Love Cell, Naughty Cell, and more – each responsible for Yumi’s emotions and actions. The narrative explores Yumi’s growth alongside her cells in imaginative ways.
In 2021 and 2022, the property was adapted into a TV series that combined live-action and animation for Korean streamer Tving. It lifted main actor Kim Go-eun (previously known for the K-drama series “Guardian: The Lonely and Great God”) to further international recognition.
The feature movie, a first for the franchise, delves into the love story of Yumi and Babi, picking up from the final part of the second season of the TV series. It also explores Yumi’s pursuit of her dream to become a writer.
The original “Yumi’s Cells” webtoon achieved an average user rating of 9.9 points out of ten, per episode, establishing itself as a formidable intellectual property. Before the launch of the TV adaptation, Naver reported that the webtoon had been viewed 3.2 billion times.
The subsequent TV series ran for 28 episodes, corresponding to two seasons, with the second season reportedly enjoying a 60% increase in viewership over the first.
Tving reported over rights sales for the series to over 150 territories. Overseas distributors included Viki, China’s Bilibili and iQiyi and Amazon’s multi-territory platform Prime Video.
Studio N has been regularly parlayed its content portfolio into dramas, movies, and animations with examples including the Netflix Original “Sweet Home” and “Bloodhounds,” Disney+’s “Vigilante.”
Sylvie Kim, head of Barunson E&A’s international business unit, said: “We are delighted to add the feature animation adaptation of ‘Yumi’s Cells,’ a globally beloved IP, to our sales lineup. We plan to consistently introduce original and powerful content without limiting ourselves to specific countries, genres, or formats.”
At the EFM, Barunson E&A will also begin pre-sales of slates of other titles that are also in post-production. These include the adventure comedy “Amazon Bullseye,” starring Ryu Seung-ryong (“Extreme Job” and Disney+ “Moving”) and “Forbidden Fairytale, which it pitches as a daring and imaginative sexy comedy.
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