Filmination, an online marketplace for Japanese content, is expanding and relaunching. The object is to smooth and speed up the often-cumbersome process of dealing with Japanese rights holders.

Pitched as the first of its kind in Japan, the revamped site allows rights holders to present their wares and rights buyers to select films and TV series. Within the platform they can also negotiate and sign rights deals and arrange for delivery.

Foreign acquisitions executives have been scouting Japanese content for decades, but as Filmination global sales director Toshiaki Fujisawa notes, they often encounter barriers, from language to what he describes as “the complicated process of acquiring the Japanese film licenses due to Japan’s specific rights management practices.”

One of the stumbling blocks is the “production committee” (seisaku iinkai) system of media companies partnering to produce and promote a film. This can require buyers to jump through more hoops before closing a rights deal than is usual elsewhere.

The site offers a constantly growing catalog of over 1,500 unique titles, including many indie films. Filmination, says Fujisawa, is focusing on Japanese content exclusively for the present “since no other countries have similar structural issues to Japan in every business domain.” But eventually, he adds, the company “is going to expand to countries in Asia, and then worldwide.”

The coronavirus pandemic has necessitated the cancelation of many film festivals and rights markets, and given new life to the concept of online film markets. Others in the sector include Vuulr and RightsTrade, as well as those being established by established sales events, such as Cannes and the American Film Market. The establishment of multiple, specialized SVoD platforms has also created a need for some buyers to stock up quickly.

First launched in January 2019 as a browsable catalog of Japanese films for VoD buyers, Filmination in its previous incarnation helped close international deals for veteran Sadao Nakajima’s samurai actioner “Love’s Twisting Path,” festival favorite Rikiya Imaizumi’s LGBT drama “His,” and the late Nobuhiko Obayashi’s anti-war epic “Hanagatami.”