THE DEALMAKER: Tokyo-born Ryuhei Chiba launched many pop acts to stardom as a producer at music powerhouse Avex in the early 1990s, including TRF, hitomi and globe. In 1995 he was promoted to prexy of Avex artist management agency Axev (then called White Atlas), where he molded the careers of such major talents as Every Little Thing, Ayumi Hamasaki, Kumi Koda and Ai Otsuka. In 2004, he became the co-CEO of Avex Group Holdings, a position he still holds.
In 2005, Chiba started Avex’s Visual Content Business Headquarters — a pic production arm where he exec produced the period actioner “Genghis Khan: To the Ends of the Earth and Sea,” horror pic “Retribution” and the John Woo period epic “Red Cliff,” which set a B.O. record for a Chinese-language film in China following its July 10 opening.
Together with Bill Kong of Hong Kong-based Edko Film, Chiba is also producing “Subaru,” based on a popular ballet comic starring Meisa Kuroki and helmed by Chi-Ngai Lee. Pan-Asian release is skedded for 2009.
In March, under Chiba’s leadership, Avex inked a deal with Kong to launch $16.7 million film fund Irresistible Films to make pics with up-and-coming helmers. Last month, Avex closed another deal for the $50 million Pamiem Film Fund with Hong Kong’s Media Asia and Media Asia’s parent eSun Holdings. The fund is primarily for producing pics for the Asian market, but is also purposed for talent development.
“Avex is a company of fools that has made many mistakes, but now we have a clear goal. We want to be bigger fools, to become great fools and make Asia the center of the filmmaking world,” Chiba said at the party Avex threw at Cannes this year.
KEY DEALS: Made Avex a production partner on John Woo’s hit period epic “Red Cliff.” Negotiated deals for a $16.7 million film fund with producer Bill Kong and a $50 million film fund with Media Asia and eSun Holdings.