Business / Corporate

Mobile gaming firm Akatsuki to adapt Japanese content for U.S. TV and movie screens

by Alex Martin

Staff Writer

Mobile gaming company Akatsuki Inc. announced Tuesday the launch of a U.S.-based entertainment production company aimed at developing feature films for a global audience based on popular Japanese content including manga, anime and novels.

Tokyo-based Akatsuki, established in 2010, has set up a wholly owned subsidiary in Los Angeles headed by Annmarie Sairrino Bailey, formerly of All Nippon Entertainment Works, where she adapted Japanese creative properties to English-language film and television.

The new company will be advised by industry veteran Sandy Climan, president of Entertainment Media Ventures, a media investment and advisory firm.

In a press release, Akatsuki said the new company will focus on “developing strategic partnerships between Hollywood and Japanese companies to acquire, develop and produce commercially driven intellectual properties.”

The announcement followed last week’s announcement from Paramount Pictures and J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot Productions that they won the rights to adapt “Your Name.” (“Kimi no na wa”) into a live-action feature film. The news drew a mixed response, with some fans of the blockbuster Japanese sci-fi animation film asking whether the magic of the original would translate to the Hollywood adaptation.

“There’s strong interest in Hollywood toward Japanese content, but negotiations can often be complicated, and many film adaptations fail to materialize,” said Moeko Suzuki, Tokyo head of the new company, Akatsuki Entertainment USA.

She said Akatsuki is confident it can maintain the quality of productions by keeping in close contact with the original creators and other parties involved, and by overseeing projects from beginning to end.

Suzuki said Akatsuki will focus on producing small to medium-scale films with a budget in the range of several hundred million to billions of yen. Akatsuki plans to fund the projects but may seek outside financial support when necessary. It will aim to produce three to five titles per year, she said.

Headed by Genki Shiota, Akatsuki produces games for mobile phones. The company has been logging strong growth, and was upgraded to the first section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange last month. For the year ended March 31, it reported revenue of ¥11.5 billion, compared with around ¥6 billion the previous year.

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