The movie buzz website Ain’t It Cool News has posted a profile of All Nippon Entertainment Works (or ANEW), the Los Angeles/Tokyo film development and production company formed to boost international success for Japanese industries. Of course, anime is a major focus of the pop culture branch of this initiative, and so they’ve partnered with Ron Howard and Brian Grazer’s Imagine Entertainment, which is developing the live-action Tiger & Bunny movie and a live-action version of the Toei mecha series Gaiking. The latter is also being made with the help of The Walking Dead producer Gale Ann Hurd’s Valhalla Entertainment, Inc.
In the profile piece, ANEW’s CEO Sanford Climan explains the company’s role and intentions:
“With ANEW, the [Japanese] government made the decision to better promote the storytelling of Japan to a global English language audience. There has been a long, but sporadic, history of properties being optioned or adapted, but not that many, and what they want to do is change the dynamic in a number of ways. They wanted to create a company that is essentially Japanese- that was ANEW. They wanted to find Americans who have a love of Japanese culture- that was us. And they wanted to create a true cultural bridge from Japan to the U.S. where instead of properties just being adapted, there would be an appreciation of the creators in Japan- whether they are networks, publishers, movie companies, manga, anime, games, book publishers- and basically that we would partner with that creative community.”
“There’s distance, language barriers, and cultural business differences. In the U.S. and elsewhere in the world you have a legal system where everything is contractually written down in exact detail, whereas in Japan those contracts and relationships are rarely documented in formal contracts, and you have to recreate it. The other thing is that between the creative elements and the business elements, the notion of trust is critical to doing business. When I started working in Hollywood people actually worked on a handshake and trust. The Japanese still work on a handshake and trust.”
“We believe that telling stories from different cultures is really important. When you know that you are looking at something that comes from another culture, it causes you to want to understand that culture better- that leads to more overall understanding, and that’s a very good thing.”
The company’s Senior Vice President of Development and Production, Annmarie Bailey, also adds:
“The expectation is all that Japan has is anime and horror, and what we want to do is educate the public that they also have comedies, they also have really great heartfelt adaptable dramas. We’re into all different budgets and genres, and while everyone is going for the Narutos, etc and that’s important for us, we want to export IP that people haven’t heard of before to let them know that it was originally Japanese.That’s what we’re tasked to do, and that’s what we’re doing on a daily basis.”
Other projects in the pipeline include a film adaptation of Nakuto Koike’s manga 6000: Rokusen, produced by Black Swan and Shutter Island‘s Mike Medavoy. There are also plans for a SOUL ReVIVER adaptation from the 2012 supernatural manga series by Tohru Fujisawa and Manabu Akishige, with the writer and director team of Marshall Herskovitz and Edward Zwick of Bedford Falls Productions and Field Corps.