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TOKYO — The Nikkatsu studio and Madhouse toon house will join forces in the U.S. to make pics with the U.S. partners and expand their worldwide businesses, company toppers told Daily Variety.

The partners, who are both members of the Index Holdings media/mobile communication group, with launch an L.A. office in January, combining current U.S.-based staffs. The aim of the new partnership is make pics for the world market, together with Hollywood studios and producers. “We’re not just going to sell remake rights to our properties, but make films using our own corporate resources, in partnership with Hollywood companies,” Sato explained. “We intend to make both live-action films from animation and animation from live-action films.”

Madhouse contributes its roster of top toon talent, including anime auteurs Satoshi Kon, Katsuhiro Otomo and Rintaro . Its hits include SF/fantasy “Paprika.”

There are no set limits on budgets, genres or numbers but the target, says Sato, “is about five or six titles a year.” Both studios are already actively making content for the world market. Madhouse recently produced “Highlander: The Search for Vengeance,” a 2007 feature-length toon based on the classic 1986 horror pic, together with an international consortium that includes Imagi in Hong Kong and Davis-Panzer Productions in the U.S. Nikkatsu is producing “Yatterman,” a Y1.3 billion ($11 million) live-action pic based on a classic 1970s anime series, with cult favorite Takashi Miike helming. Released is skedded for the summer of 2009 and is already getting attention from international distribs.

There are no set limits on budgets, genres or numbers but the target, says Sato, “is about five or six titles a year.” Nikkatsu will take domestic theatrical rights, though given the small size of its theater chain — six sites — it will have to partner with larger exhibs for major releases. It plans to release the pics on from 60 to 200 screens nationwide.