UPDATED: The 24th annual Anime Expo wants Hollywood producers looking for their next big project to come to this year’s edition, to be held July 2-5 at the Los Angeles Convention Center, because that’s where they can find them.
“We’ve had Hollywood’s attendance and cooperation for a number of years,” notes Marc Perez, CEO of the Society for the Promotion of Japanese Animation (SPJA), sponsor of the expo. Expo officials note that Hollywood has turned to Japan for many successful projects, like Tom Cruise starrer “Edge of Tomorrow,” based on the Japanese novel “All You Need Is Kill,” and the upcoming film adaptation of Japanese manga “Ghost in the Shell,” starring Scarlett Johansson. And they want producers to know there’s more where that came from.
“We trying to appeal to producers,” says Perez. “We’re essentially the anime industry’s trade event. We’re hoping to connect the Japanese market with the American market.”
The expo is certainly large enough to do that. Officials are expecting more than 100,000 to attend this year’s event and it is expected to grow. In fact, AEG Facilities’ Los Angeles Convention Center has just announced a five-year agreement to host the Anime Expo through 2019, recognizing the event’s impact on the city’s economy.
“Los Angeles is excited to welcome Anime Expo back to the L.A. Convention Center for the next five years,” said L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti. “L.A. is the creative capital of the world and a perfect home for North America’s largest anime and manga convention. We value our partnership with the Society for the Promotion of Japanese Animation and the Anime Expo, which generates $55 million for our local economy every year.”
“The last three years, we’ve trended to about 30% growth each year,” says Perez. “We’re seeing those numbers hold true for this year. Essentially, we’re L.A.’s Comic-Con, but our focus is Asian culture as opposed to domestic culture. It’s similar but we’re not attacking them; we’re just coming at it from an Asian perspective.”
A highlight of this year’s edition is a concert by Japanese pop group Momoiro Clover Z (MCZ), who collaborated with the American rock group Kiss on a No. 1 record in Japan and the musicvideo “Yume no Ukiyo Ni Saitemina (Samurai Son).” Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons of Kiss will be on hand at the Microsoft (formerly Nokia) Theater on July 2 to introduce MCZ. Tickets are available exclusively to Anime Expo badge holders and can be purchased at the Anime Expo website.
“We’ve been lucky to benefit from (MCZ) being willing to perform at an event at our show,” says Perez. “This is one of the first forays into the American market of a successful Japanese band. We’re happy to be a part of it.”
The Anime Expo has lots of other events planned for the holiday weekend including a fashion show sponsored by Sanrio featuring the 40th anniversary of the My Melody Hello Kitty Character, the U.S. premiere of the English dubbed “Sailor Moon Crystal” series and the 20th anniversary celebration of classic anime series “Evangelion.”
Other events include an anime musicvideo contest, late-night video screenings and gaming, and open-mic karaoke.
“We sell out the entire Los Angeles Convention Center,” says Perez. “We’ve got 400 exhibitors, 100,000 attendees. We’ll take over Microsoft Theater and Club Nokia, the ballrooms of the JW Marriott. This is a very large event. We’re trying to continue to push the Japanese aspect into Hollywood.”
For more information, visit the AX website.