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Studio 4C, Lucent team for toons

Companies to launch new production studio

TOKYO — Studio 4C, a mid-sized toon house with a high international profile, and Lucent Pictures Entertainment have tied up to launch a new toon production studio, Lucent 4C.

 The new partnership was unveiled during the Tokyo International Anime Fair, which wraps March 21 in Tokyo.

 Studio 4C, producer of the award-winning features “Mind Game” and “Tekkonkinkreet,” has a rep as a maker of creatively adventurous toons with a fervent overseas fan base.

 Lucent launched in 2007 as a broad-based entertainment company producing and distributing toons, live-action pics and TV programs. It is also active in software sales and merchandising.

 In their new venture, Lucent 4C, the partners plan to combine Studio 4C’s creative talent with Lucent’s skills in marketing and promotion, as well as its ability to assemble production partnerships and raise coin. Lucent 4C will announce its first project by the end of the year.      

 The announcement was a highlight of the Tokyo International Anime Fair, which attracted 26,676 visitors for its two Business Days, on March 18 and 19, an increase of 9.1 percent from the previous year and an all-time record. Of this number, 1,113 came from abroad, 7.4 percent more than in 2008, with much of the increase coming  from East Asia. This reflects the growth of toon production in Korea, China, Taiwan and elsewhere in the region, including outsourcing from Japanese toon houses.

 The Japanese toon industry has been struggling in recent years, as rampant DVD and Internet piracy have cut heavily into overseas sales, with fewer new hits on TV and other media.

Even so, toons accounted for three of the top ten domestic B.O. pics last year, including the number one “Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea,” which earned $167 million.

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