Believer Sequel in the Works at Netflix

Netflix has greenlit Believer 2, a sequel to the 2018 Korean crime thriller. The film is set to be directed by Baek Jong-yeol, who directed the 2015 fantasy/romance film The Beauty Inside. As a result, the expectation is that the movie will have a very different look to the first Believer, which earned over $30 million at the box office and earned millions of views on Netflix. There are no plans for a theatrical release this time around, according to Variety, who first reported the project was going forward.

Lead actors Cho Jin-woong and Cha Seung-won will return for the sequel, heading up a cast that also includes Han Hyo-joo, Oh Seung-hoon, Kim Dong-young and Lee Joo-young. Production is set to begin soon in Korea, with a few international locations as well. The Variety piece indicates there are also tentative plans for a spinoff series set in the world of the film. That might help keep the franchise alive despite potential scheduling conflicts; Cha Seung-won is in high demand after 2021's hit Sinkhole, and appears regularly on the TV series Our Blues.

The original Believer was written and directed by Lee Hae Young (The Silenced), and followed the story of a determined cop who found an unlikely ally in the form of a gang member, who teamed up to help him arrest the man at the head of Asia's largest drug cartel. Speculation so far is that Believer 2 will continue this narrative, teaming him up with new gang members, some of whom are not what they appear to be.  Per Variety, the film will also introduce Han Hyo-joo (Pirates: The Last Royal Treasure) as Big Sword, another shady character who has insights into Lee's organization, and action on a larger scale. The set piece action scenes include a battle at Seoul's Yongsan station.

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This is the latest in a series of big moves for American streaming platforms who hope to make inroads in foreign markets. Netflix in particular has a huge leg up on its competitors globally, but given that many countries have rules about how many Hollywood films can come to theaters as compared to their locally-produced counterparts, building franchises on streaming is one of the best ways for U.S. studios to work around the economic realities of the market.