Japanese major closes deals on kidpic 'Fox'
“Helen the Baby Fox,” a live-action kids film which received its Market preem at Berlin, has been sold to 20 territories by Japan’s Shochiku.Company is also beefing up its animation sales activities at a time when investment and interest in Japanese animation is building. Buyers for “Baby Fox” include Metropolitan for France, IMX for Korea, Long Shong for Taiwan, Golden Scene for Hong Kong, J-Pics for Thailand and Festive for Singapore. Shochiku exec Masaki Koga said firm will begin handling world sales of its own animated TV productions. Move follows similar development at rival Japanese major Toei and is a sign of further restructuring in the Janimation sector, which has cast an envious eye at the market valuations accorded to Pixar and DreamWorks Animation. As production budgets have increased, banks and private equity groups have found the undervalued sector worth backing. Recent investments in animation have come from financiers, including the $22 million contents rights group North Stars, animation house Gonzo, in partnership with Internet brokerage Rakuten Securities and the Tokyo Multimedia Fund managed by JDC Trust. Shochiku’s first two shows to go under the new sales arm are claymation series “Norabbits’ Minutes” and action series “Tokko.” Targeted at kids auds, four episodes of “Norabbits” will also be given a theatrical release at Shochiku theaters starting this month. Shochiku launched its animation production division in 2004.