The list of Netflix hit series is long: "Money Heist", "Stranger Things", "Bridgerton", "Wednesday", "The Crown", ... But none of these productions can match the mega hit "Squid Game ' that the entire world was talking about for months after the release of the first season in September 2021.
In the series, 456 candidates not only play for high prize money, but also for their lives. In a bizarre competition, they face challenges based on children's games that have deadly consequences. A good year and a half has now passed - and fans are waiting spellbound for supplies.
It took about twelve years from the creation of the story to the release of the first season on Netflix, director Hwang Dong-hyuk (51) told The Korea Times, among others. In 2008 he had the idea for the story, and he completed the screenplay the following year. However, it only took a few days for "Squid Game" to become the most successful production on the platform. Within the first four weeks after publication, more than 1.65 billion viewing hours were accumulated worldwide - a value that no other Netflix series has been able to even begin to achieve. The fourth season of "Stranger Things" is the second highest-grossing series at just over 1.35 billion hours.
Unfortunately, the wait for new episodes won't be over anytime soon, even though the writer, director and executive producer of "Squid Game" confirmed in the summer of 2022 that the second season is in the works. According to the industry magazine "Variety", in April 2022, Hwang Dong-hyuk spoke of the end of 2024 as the release date for the new episodes. After leading actor Lee Jung-jae (50), according to consistent media reports, recently spoke in an interview with the South Korean newspaper "Ilgan Sports" that filming should start in the summer of 2023 and will probably last around ten months, this seems realistic.
So far, Hwang Dong-hyuk has not wanted to talk in detail about the exact plot of the new episodes. However, he has given small insights in the past few months. For example, it is certain that the main character Gi-hun (Lee Jung-jae) and the frontman (Lee Byung-hun, 52) should return. The man in the suit (Gong Yoo, 43) could also appear again. In addition, viewers will meet Cheol-su, the friend of the puppet-like robot Young-hee, known from the "Red Light, Green Light" game, both of which are based on old school book characters.
He had already informed the industry magazine "The Hollywood Reporter" in October 2021 that a possible plot line in the story of season two could pick up on Gi-hun's story. One could, for example, shed light on how he will deal with a possible settlement with the people behind the "Squid Game". As an example of further narrative possibilities, Hwang Dong-hyuk named the story of the policeman (Wi Ha-jun, 31) and his brother, the front man, who has not yet been told - or connections around the man in the suit who is the candidate for the macabre game recruited. "Well, I don't know yet, just saying there are a lot of storyline options out there for a second season," said the 51-year-old.
"I want to ask the question [editor's note: in the second season]: 'Is true solidarity between people possible?'" Hwang Dong-hyuk told Vanity Fair last summer. This was not possible in the first season because the characters were "focused on wanting to kill each other". So they couldn't have survived as a group.
The series maker had previously explained to Netflix about the first season: "With this story I wanted to write an allegory or fable about modern capitalist society, something that reflects extreme competition, like the extreme competition of life." Netflix seems to have either failed to understand this point or is willingly ignoring it. The streaming service announced "Squid Game: The Challenge" in June 2022 - a ten-part reality show in which 456 players compete for a prize pool of $4.56 million.
For the streaming service, the question of how criticism of capitalism and a reality spectacle announced with superlatives go together does not seem to arise. Of course, the players shouldn't die, but they reported a real shooting disaster. In January 2023, according to media reports in Great Britain, the first game "Red Light, Green Light" was filmed. The participants had to endure hours at temperatures of -3 degrees Celsius, as the British tabloid "The Sun" reported at the time, citing participants. It was therefore an "icy nightmare". According to an eyewitness, at least one exhausted candidate had to be carried away on a stretcher, while others only crawled.
A report by "Rolling Stone" from February speaks, among other things, of "inhumane conditions". There is talk of at least ten people who collapsed during filming. Netflix itself confirmed that three participants needed medical attention. The producers said the game should last two hours, but according to some players, this turned into up to nine hours. They were reportedly not allowed to move for up to 30 minutes at a time. Particularly cynical against the background of the template: participants feared that if they helped others, they would be thrown out of the game for the millions. One contestant explained: "People, myself included, were in agony that one girl was convulsing and we were all standing there like statues. What planet is that even human on? [...] It's been playing with our morals and it's sick. It's absolutely sick."
The article also raises the question of whether everything was right when shooting in terms of competition. Several players therefore claimed that some participating TikTok and Instagram influencers had apparently been preselected to advance to a round. An eyewitness also noticed how a player who was actually eliminated was brought back into the game. Three others report that a larger group of participants actually reached the finish line but then had to drop out anyway. Netflix and the relevant production studios said in a joint statement that "any suggestion that the competition has been rigged or claims that players have been seriously harmed are simply untrue". Adequate safety precautions have been taken, including with regard to aftercare for participants.
Regardless of the light in which such allegations make the production appear, the streaming service should be craving for other formats related to the hit series after the incredible "Squid Game" success. In early 2022, Netflix co-boss Ted Sarandos (58) announced: "The 'Squid Game' universe has only just begun." So it wouldn't be surprising if a Western remake of the series didn't appear at some point - possibly even to bridge the waiting time for the second season.
Corresponding rumors have been circulating for a while. "I heard Netflix is working on a US version of 'Squid Game'," said film industry insider Jeff Sneider in an interview with John Rocha a few weeks ago. And just recently he wrote on Twitter that he had heard more rumors. According to several anonymous sources, Netflix is allegedly courting David Fincher (60). The "Seven", "The Game" and "Fight Club" makers should therefore, if possible, act as director and producer for a US version of "Squid Game". Putting aside whether a remake is really necessary, Fincher could actually be a pretty good choice given the source material.