squid game was an absolute phenomenon on Netflix. Would it have had the same reach as a film? It was writer/director Hwang Dong-hyuk’s original plan when he first wrote squid game in 2008. Several circumstances led Hwang to revisit the project 10 years later and make it a series.
Hwang was at a Q&A with the cast of squid game at Chapman University, where The Hollywood Reporter’s Awards Speech podcast released on March 29. here’s how squid game went from movie to Netflix series and what you would have missed if it had remained a movie.
Hwang Dong-hyuk was to become famous for making “Squid Game”
Hwang directed his first feature film, My fatherin 2007. It still wasn’t enough weight to make squid game like a movie.
“So I started writing squid game circa 2008,” Hwang said through a translator on the Awards Speech Podcast. “After failing to fund it, I went through a pretty tough time. It wasn’t easy going back then.
‘Squid Game’ Was Almost Animated Before Netflix
After making successful films like Miss Granny and acclaimed like Quiet and The fortressHwang tried squid game again. But he had given up on making a film of it.
“I never forgot this project,” Hwang himself said. “It was in my head for about 10 years because nobody liked it then. So I was like I’m going to show you. It will work out one day. It was like my own revenge on those people who have rejected this project.
Hwang thought that if squid game couldn’t work as a movie, maybe it could be an anime series.
RELATED: “Squid Game”: Lee Jung-jae’s Theory on Gi-hun’s Role in Season 2
“So after I’ve finished The fortress, my original plan was to turn this story into a very popular webtoon in Korea,” Hwang said. “So I met the person who works in the webtoon business and presented the story to her. She said, ‘Let me see. Let me see the script. So I opened my laptop home and I read the screenplay I wrote 10 years ago. All of a sudden it came alive. Wow, that’s not bad.
But a live-action series seemed like an even better idea.
“Then it occurred to me that there is Netflix in Korea,” Hwang said. “So yeah, there’s Netflix, maybe they’ll love that idea. It doesn’t have to be a feature, it could be a series. So I called someone from Netflix who I know and she was like, ‘Okay, bring it to me.’ I’ll email her the script and she loved it, so it happened.
The movie ‘Squid Game’ would have missed all that
Looking at his original squid game script of the film, even Hwang realized that he had left out a lot. Making it a nine-part Netflix series allowed him to explore all of the competing characters in the game.
“So when I was writing the script for the feature film, I even felt that I wanted to have more space and time to describe more characters and more stories,” Hwang said. “In this scenario, it was just game after game after game. There was no story between those games. I think it’s better to have it in the series, so it’s longer.
Hwang also knew he couldn’t get away with all the violence of a squid game movie.
You have seen the whole episode. It’s too violent, it’s very absurd, it’s unrealistic. That’s what they told me in 2009. You saw it. I still thought, in 2018, I thought they weren’t going to like it because it’s too violent to make a commercial feature. He is going to be classed as 19 or older. The investment company might ask me to make it PG-13, less violent. I didn’t want to do that and I knew Netflix would allow me to do whatever I wanted in terms of violence and sex.
Hwang Dong-hyuk, Awards Speech podcast, 3/29/22
RELATED: “Squid Game” Season 2: Lee Jung-jae Has an Interesting Idea to Bring Back Characters