Dentsu, Mitsubishi pact

Japanese co.'s launch animation investment fund

TOKYO — Japanese advertising giant Dentsu and trading house Mitsubishi Corp. are pacting to finance, produce, market and manage rights for Japanese animation.

Today they will launch an animation investment fund, managed by Dentsu subsidiary Geneon Entertainment and Mitsubishi subsidiary d-rights. Latter develops, promotes and manages rights for TV and theatrical animated titles, including the international hit series “Beyblade.”

The fund’s initial investment will be 2 billion yen ($18 million), with Dentsu contributing 30%, Geneon 20% and d-rights 50%.

The three aim to produce 15 to 20 projects annually, which they will underwrite and jointly distribute along with managing rights domestically and worldwide.

The first project is helmer Kenji Kamiyama’s “Guardians of the Sacred Spirit,” an animated series produced by Production I.G. that pubcaster NHK will broadcast in spring 2007.

Kamiyama’s credits include the million-selling DVD “Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex.” The partners will also market the series domestically and internationally in 2007.

Under the new pact, Dentsu and Mitsubishi will make Dentsu subsidiary Geneon Entertainment (USA), based in Long Beach, a joint venture between Dentsu and d-rights.

Geneon Entertainment (USA) currently plans and distributes Japanese animation and other entertainment content in the U.S. It also will distribute and promote animation produced by the investment fund and develop new uses for it on the Internet, mobile devices and other new media. Dentsu tied up with rival ad agency Hakuhodo in March to jointly invest in and promote “Tales From Earthsea,” the new feature animation film from Studio Ghibli (“Spirited Away,” “Howl’s Moving Castle”) that will hit theaters in Japan this July.

Japan’s largest trading company, Mitsubishi has a wide range of media-related interests, including cable and satellite TV. Its animation investments include “Howl’s Moving Castle.”

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