SPE eyes Japanese feature production

Company to create, distrib pics for local consumption

Sony Pictures Entertainment is in the earliest stages of setting up an indigenous production company in Japan for features and animation, the company confirmed Thursday.

The company would create and distribute Japanese-language films for local consumption.

Sony confirmed the plan to rebut an earlier report Thursday from the Japanese financial newspaper Nihon Keizai Shimbun that the company was creating an overall animation division, partnered by SPE and its parent Sony Corp. in Tokyo.

The new entity may delve into animation, but there are no plans for an autonomous toon division, Sony said.

No details regarding financing, budgets of films or the size of the company were released.

Sony Pictures Entertainment spokesman Peter Wilkes said the idea for a local production entity, which Sony has explored for more than a year in several territories, is still merely in the planning stages.

“We’re exploring various options, but there are no specific plans in place at this time,” he said.

Still, the feature/animation production entity that Sony is outlining for Japan would be modeled on Deutsche Columbia TriStar Film Production, which was started in January this year as a locally based production entity in Germany.

Sony has made a mandate of creating indigenous film companies to finance product for their local markets.

When the German company was announced Col TriStar Motion Picture Group prexy Kenneth Lemberger described the venture as “another strategic step in SPE’s plan to establish local motion picture production and original language programming in key markets around the world.”

By the turn of the century, Sony is expecting Deutsche Col TriStar to produce four to five German-lingo pics per year in the $2 million to $4 million budget range.

(Jon Herskovitz in Tokyo conributed to this report.),/b>