Global multi-platform entertainment company Wattpad and WEBTOON, the digital comics platform, have announced the merger of their studio divisions to create Wattpad WEBTOON Studios.
The merger will bring a combined audience of more than 166 million people. The new multi-format studio will aim to make global fan and data-driven TV shows, films, and books. Naver, parent company to both WEBTOON and Wattpad, will commit USD $100 million to Wattpad WEBTOON Studios for development and production financing.
Wattpad WEBTOON Studios president Aron Levitz said, “We’re bringing a new era of diverse voices and incredible IP to audiences and an industry looking for both, businesses are spending billions of dollars to capture the last 100 years of IP. We’re looking to the future, with hundreds of millions of new stories to power the next 100 years of hits on screens and bookshelves.”
After launching and building the Wattpad Studios brand since 2017, Aron Levitz steps into this new role. Taylor Grant will lead the WEBTOON entertainment portfolio, Eric Lehrman will lead the Wattpad entertainment portfolio, Ashleigh Gardner will continue to lead all aspects of publishing, and Dexter Ong will lead international business.
South Korea’s internet conglomerate Naver recently acquired Wattpad in a transaction estimated to be more than USD $600 million. The move aligned Wattpad with Naver’s WEBTOON, two leading comics, entertainment, and storytelling companies. By merging Wattpad and WEBTOON’s entertainment divisions, Wattpad WEBTOON Studios strengthens Naver’s global leadership in IP, digital comics, and web novels.
Wattpad WEBTOON Studios has more than 100 projects in development or production, hits on screens everywhere, a thriving global publishing division, and industry-leading expertise in YA and comic adaptations, which are among the most popular and successful categories in entertainment.
Wattpad and WEBTOON’s expertise in fan-driven content has led to high-profile projects like Netflix’s WEBTOON-originated Sweet Home; Noblesse, an anime co-production between WEBTOON and Crunchyroll; and the upcoming Netflix Original Film Través De Mi Ventana from Nostromo Pictures, based on the global Wattpad hit of the same name. Netflix previously saw enormous success with the Netflix and Komixx Entertainment adaptation of The Kissing Booth, the story Beth Reekles first wrote on Wattpad.
WEBTOON’s credits include the comic Tower of God, and its TV adaptation, now available on Crunchyroll and HBO Max; After which accumulated more than 1.5 billion reads on Wattpad, before becoming a novel from Simon and Schuster and film from Voltage Pictures and Wattpad Studios in 2019; and Hulu’s Light as a Feather, produced by Awesomeness TV, Wattpad Studios, and Grammnet. In Southeast Asia, the Vidio original Series Turn On, produced by Wattpad Studios and Screenplay Films, set a record 10 million views for Vidio in Q1 2021. The series has been green lit for a second season.
WEBTOON founder and CEO Jun Koo Kim said, “Wattpad WEBTOON Studios is here to knock down every remaining border in entertainment, the team at Wattpad WEBTOON Studios is developing IP across formats, building franchises, and nurturing the fandom that power them. And they’re doing it with a full global perspective from day one. Combining local market expertise and audience data, Wattpad WEBTOON Studios can create local hits with regional partners or develop with a global audience in mind.”
Publishing is a key component of the Wattpad WEBTOON Studios strategy, allowing fully verticalised IP across TV, film, and books. Several Wattpad WEBTOON Studios entertainment projects have or will also be published as books including volume one of Rachel Smythe’s Eisner Award-nominated WEBTOON graphic novel series, Lore Olympus coming from Penguin Random House in October 2021. Wattpad has published hundreds of books with partners around the world and 30 titles from the Wattpad Books imprint since launching in 2019.