Yuma Terada is the person Hollywood studios turn to when they’re trying to navigate Japanese pop culture.
The 35-year-old, Columbia University-educated head of CTB, Inc., a Tokyo-based artist management company, has carved out a specialty guiding U.S. companies through the minefield of rights holding in the land of the rising sun. There are substantial differences in copyright law in the two countries that can lead to big headaches. In Japan, the author of a work owns the rights to their content in perpetuity. The publisher of that content cannot license material. As Japanese anime and manga become more popular in this country, the demand for graphic novels and other intellectual property has only grown.
“Unlike in the U.S., in Japan, we don’t have any ICM or CAA,” Terada said. “There’s no systematic representation of artists and authors. When Hollywood tries to access the IP, there’s no phone number that they can call.”
Terada and his co-founder Ryosuke Saegusa hope to change that. They’ve partnered with veteran entertainment lawyer Jody Simon to broker several prominent deals in recent months. Through CTB, Terada and Saegusa represent popular Japanese novelists Kazushige Abe and Kotaro Isaka. They forged a deal with Sony Pictures to sell film and television rights to the pair’s novel “Captain Thunderbolt,” which the studio plans to develop projects around in multiple territories. They also represented Abe in a deal for an original pilot script titled “Sentimental Journey” that was commissioned by Sony.
In June 2017, CTB shopped a different novel by Isaka around Hollywood and received four competing offers. CTB is currently negotiating with one of the bidders, a major studio, to close the deal. In these and other Hollywood deals, Saegusa and Terada serve as both the authors’ manager and producer.
“No one is going to Hollywood on behalf of Japanese writers to actively sell their products to Hollywood,” Simon said. “Consequently, there have only been a small number of deals.”
Simon says the rights headaches are partly to blame. He notes that Godzilla, a Japanese creation, has had great success in various U.S. incarnations, while anime and manga have been embraced by North American consumers.
“Japanese products are pretty accessible,” Simon said.
(Pictured: Ryosuke Saegusa and Yuma Terada)