Animation feature “The Journey,” co-produced by Saudi animation studios Manga Productions and Japan’s Toei Animation, has struck a deal with Dubai-based exhibitor Vox Cinemas for theatrical distribution across the Middle East and North Africa.
Manga has also announced that the toon epic based on Saudi folklore and directed by Japan’s Shizuno Kobun (“Godzilla: City on the Edge of Battle”) will be going out in Japan via Toei subsidiary T-Joy.
Distribution deals were announced at Berlin’s EFM market.
The co-production stems from a pact between the two companies made in November 2017, one month before Saudi Arabia lifted its 35-year ban on cinemas. It is being touted as a milestone for Manga which is fully financing the $10-15 million project that is currently in post.
Manga will presenting the pic to prospective buyers for other territories at the Cannes Marche du Film in May.
The epic revolves around a group of men who have to armor up to protect their city, which has never been exposed to war, against a colossal army.
The animation work was done in Riyadh and Tokyo.
The film’s character designer is Tatsuro Iwamoto (“Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney”) while composer Kaoru Wada (“Inuyasha”) penned the film’s music score.
Manga Productions CEO Bukhary Essam in a statement called “The Journey” a “collaborative movie that Japanese animation professionals and young Saudi Arabian talents created side-by-side,” adding that he was “excited” it would be going out in MENA and Japan via the Vox and T-Joy teams respectively.
VOX Cinemas Chief Content Officer Toni AlMassih also struck a similar note in his comment, saying that “The Journey” is “unique in telling a Middle Eastern story using Japanese anime art style” and noting that the result “is a fresh experience.”
Manga Productions’ first anime series “Future’s Folktales,” also co-produced with Toei, has been airing successfully since January on Middle East satcaster MBC and its Shahid digital platform.
The series consists of thirteen 23-minute episodes and revolves revolves around a Saudi family that lives in Riyadh in the year 2050. Each episode begins in the future and then time-travels back to different past periods.