Wattpad and WEBTOON Merge Studio Divisions to Create Wattpad WEBTOON Studios, a Fully Funded, Fan-Driven Global Entertainment Powerhouse
Naver will commit USD $100M to Wattpad WEBTOON Studios for development and production financing
Under the leadership of Aron Levitz as President, Wattpad WEBTOON Studios unites WEBTOON and Wattpad’s unmatched IP catalogues, international audiences, and expertise in building global fandoms under a single global studio umbrella
Wattpad WEBTOON Studios has more than 100 TV and film projects in development or production with partners around the world, hits on screens everywhere, and a growing slate of books and international imprints
TORONTO & LOS ANGELES–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Wattpad, the global multi-platform entertainment company for original stories and leading social storytelling platform, and WEBTOON, the world’s largest digital comics platform, today announced that the companies will merge their studio divisions to create Wattpad WEBTOON Studios. Leveraging the passionate global fandoms from WEBTOON and Wattpad’s combined audience of more than 166 million people, Wattpad WEBTOON Studios will create the world’s most innovative multi-format studio making global fan and data-driven TV shows, films, and books. Naver, parent company to both WEBTOON and Wattpad, will commit USD $100M to Wattpad WEBTOON Studios for development and production financing.
After launching and building the Wattpad Studios brand since 2017, Aron Levitz will step into the role of President of Wattpad WEBTOON Studios. 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 $600M. 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 webnovels.
Wattpad WEBTOON Studios unites WEBTOON Studios’ expertise and growing slate of adaptations from some of the world’s most-popular digital comics, with Wattpad Studios’ data-backed, audience-driven approach to finding and producing hit TV shows, films, and books. As an audience-driven IP powerhouse, Wattpad WEBTOON Studios unlocks the full potential of WEBTOON and Wattpad’s global IP libraries, growing roster of superstar creators, and fandoms in every genre.
Wattpad WEBTOON Studios brings hundreds of millions of new stories and diverse voices to the global entertainment and publishing market, along with an unmatched ability to find and develop hit franchises for local or international audiences. Today, 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 A Traves 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 Studios and Wattpad Studios projects have received mainstream acclaim and have broken records. The WEBTOON comic Tower of God is a global phenomenon with 4.5 billion reads. WEBTOON and Crunchyroll recently co-produced a hit anime adaptation, now available on Crunchyroll and HBO Max. The teen megahit After accumulated more than 1.5 billion reads on Wattpad, before becoming a best-selling novel from Simon & Schuster and film from Voltage Pictures and Wattpad Studios in 2019. The film won a People’s Choice Award and three Teen Choice Awards in 2019, going on to spawn five additional films in the franchise. Hulu’s Light as a Feather, produced by AwesomenessTV, Wattpad Studios, and Grammnet, was nominated for 10 Daytime Emmy Awards over two seasons. 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 greenlit for a second season.
Publishing will remain a key component of the Wattpad WEBTOON Studios strategy, allowing for fully verticalized IP across TV, film, and books. Today, a dozen Wattpad WEBTOON Studios entertainment projects have or will also be published as books. The first volume of Rachel Smythe’s Eisner Award-nominated WEBTOON graphic novel series, Lore Olympus, will be published by Penguin Random House in October 2021. Wattpad has seen enormous success in publishing, working with marquee publishing partners like Hachette in France, Penguin Random House UK, Mondadori Group in Italy, Penguin Random House Grupo Editorial in Spain, AST in Russia, and Anvil Publishing in the Philippines. Wattpad has published hundreds of books with partners around the world and 30 titles from the Wattpad Books imprint since launching in 2019.
“We’re bringing a new era of diverse voices and incredible IP to audiences and an industry looking for both,” said Aron Levitz, President of Wattpad WEBTOON Studios. “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.”
“Wattpad WEBTOON Studios is here to knock down every remaining border in entertainment,” said WEBTOON founder and CEO, Jun Koo Kim. “The team at Wattpad WEBTOON Studios is developing IP across formats, building franchises, and nurturing the fandoms 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.”
“YA and comic adaptations are some of the biggest hits in publishing and entertainment. And Wattpad WEBTOON Studios has one of the biggest libraries of both on the planet,” said Wattpad CEO & co-founder Allen Lau. “Wattpad WEBTOON Studios has an unmatched library of IP, powered by a new generation of creators, and the technology to create hits in every genre. We’re thrilled to combine WEBTOON and Wattpad’s IP leadership to create the world’s first truly modern studio.”
“Stories from Wattpad and WEBTOON are already in demand and known as some of the most exciting IP in the entertainment market,” said Michelle Kwon, CEO of Studio N. “We’re thrilled to celebrate the launch of Wattpad WEBTOON Studios, and look forward to collaborating with the new team.”
Wattpad WEBTOON Studios aligns WEBTOON Studios and Wattpad Studios’ existing projects and partnerships under the same banner. WEBTOON Studios has worked with The Jim Henson Company; Crunchyroll; Vertigo Entertainment – the production company behind the IT franchise and The Lego Movie; Bound Entertainment – the global studio led by Snowpiercer and Okja producer Samuel Ha. Select Wattpad Studios deals and partnerships include work with Sony Pictures Television, Erik Feig’s Picturestart, Germany’s Bavaria Fiction, Italy’s Leone Film Group, Turner Latin America’s Particular Crowd, Brazil’s Wise Entertainment, Canada’s CBC, France’s Mediawan, Singapore’s MediaCorp, and others.
Wattpad WEBTOON Studios arrives with projects in development from some of the most exciting partners in global entertainment. Select projects in development include Float, which will star and be produced by Robbie Amell; What Happened That Night, currently being adapted by Academy Award-nominated screenwriter David Arata; The Hound, with a script by Angela LaManna (Netflix’s The Haunting of Bly Manor); The Bad Boy’s Girl, with Leone Film Group; and Perfect Addiction with Constantin Film and JB Pictures.
Wattpad’s vision is to entertain and connect the world through stories. Wattpad’s flagship app is a leading social storytelling platform, home to a community of more than 90 million people who spend over 23 billion minutes a month engaged in original stories. Wattpad’s Story DNA Machine Learning technology allows the company to discover stand-out stories among more than one billion uploads written on the platform. Wattpad Studios and Wattpad Books are transforming entertainment and publishing, using data-backed insights to turn Wattpad stories into books, films and TV shows. Wattpad Brand Partnerships help brands build deep engagement with Gen Z consumers. The company is proudly based in Toronto, Canada. Learn more at company.wattpad.com.
WEBTOON® is the world’s leading digital platform for visual storytelling. As the first modern digital publishing and self-publishing platform for digital comics, WEBTOON has revolutionized the way visual stories are created and consumed, allowing anyone to become a creator.
WEBTOON also has become a cultural and global phenomenon, pioneering the distribution and consumption of web-based comics. With an average of 72+ million monthly active users, more people consume WEBTOON series than watch most television shows. WEBTOON features a broad and diverse catalog of content from all over the world — including romance, thriller, fantasy, comedy and more. WEBTOON is No.1 app among 16-24 year olds in Korea and also is in the top tier among the same group in the other countries.
Launched stateside in 2014, WEBTOON has thousands of creator-owned series with episodes updating daily. Also boasting partnerships with Legendary, POW!, Top Cow/Image, and more, WEBTOON takes storytelling to the next level. Creators have been nominated for multiple Eisner Awards, as well as winning a multitude of Ringo Awards. The WEBTOON app is free to download on Android and iOS devices.
Kiel Hume, Director of PR & Communications, Wattpad