Shochiku tunes up toons

1st animated titles will be unveiled in coming months

SYDNEY — Japan’s oldest film studio, Shochiku Co., is tuning up a toon division.

New unit aims to produce five animated films and TV projects annually, according to its head, Shochiku general manager of filmed entertainment Ichiro Seki.

Company will commission work from Japan’s numerous animation houses, using advanced CGI animation as well as classic animation, depending on the project.

Shochiku’s first animated titles will be unveiled in the coming months, and the company hopes to release its maiden pic next year. As a distrib, it has had great success with animated films such as “Gensomaden Saiyuki — The Movie” and the “Ultraman” series.

“Establishing a division dedicated solely to providing animated product keeps Shochiku at the forefront of studio advancement,” Seki said. “Strategically, the company is now in a position where it can capitalize more effectively on the growing market for animated films and television series.”

Shochiku is a vertically integrated entertainment conglom encompassing feature film and TV production, theatrical distribution of Japanese and foreign films, worldwide sales, exhibition, DVD and homevideo distribution and the kabuki theater.

Its recent output includes director Yoji Yamada’s “The Twilight Samurai,” Japan’s entry in the race for the foreign-lingo pic Oscar.

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