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H Collective and Rakuten Pact for Japanese Production and Distribution

Los Angeles-based film producer and distributor The H Collective has formed a two-part alliance with Japanese Internet services giant Rakuten. Together they intend to produce and distribute movies in Japan, the world’s third largest box office market.

Formed in 2017, the H Collective is headed by former Paramount executive Nic Crawley. Rakuten has services that range from e-commerce to fintech. It is also one of the largest video streamers in Europe.

Their Rakuten H Collective Studio is a joint venture that will handle in-house film production, financing, intellectual property management, and the production, and the sale of video content. It plans to be involved in creating music, comics, games and other goods based on the content of its films, and to sell advertising through product placement.

Additional projects to fall under Rakuten H Collective Studio include Aaron W. Sala’s horror thriller “The Beast,” which will be directed by Christine Crokos, and “The Remainders,” a two-handed revenge thriller written by Derek Kolstad (“John Wick”).

Rakuten and The H Collective also established Rakuten Distribution, a film distribution company that will primarily handle the Japanese releases of distribute films produced by The H Collective. “Brightburn,” starring Elizabeth Banks and produced by James Gunn (“Guardians of the Galaxy”) will be its first title. The release will be supported by Toho-Towa in autumn 2019.

In May, Rakuten announced that it would be investing in both “Brightburn” and H Collective’s “xXx 4”. The pair hinted that they would establish the releasing operation.

The H Collective has also been active in courting China. It has signed two, separate three-picture pacts with Chinese streaming firm iQIYI. Titles covered by those deals include “xXx 4,” “The Beast,” and a currently untitled Manga project.

Under a four film per year distribution and marketing arrangement with Sony “Brightburn” was released in May this year. It scored $17.3 million in North America, and $32.4 million globally to date.

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