Big news for fans of Japanese anime, and the business behind it. Toei Animation — Japan’s largest animation production company — plans a major foray into the U.S. market with a live action film, Gaiking, based on a world-famous anime character universe. This also represents the first development deal for All Nippon Entertainment Works, a public-private partnership designed to help the country’s entertainment producers expand across the globe. They’re teaming up with Valhalla Entertainment (which developed and produces AMC’s The Walking Dead) which will develop and co-produce the film derived from a series about a young man who pilots a super-robot — which in this case must save the world from alien invaders. “Gaiking has long been one of the most beloved giant robot animation franchises with a global fan base,” says Toei Animation’s Yoshi Ikezawa. The company wants the feature film “to be the first of many more to come from Toei’s large stable” of properties. There’s no release date yet. The backers plan to target the fanboy and fangirl audience that turned out for hits such as Marvel’s The Avengers and Paramount’s Transformers. Gaiking “marks a huge step forward in adapting one of the best Japanese [intellectual properties] for a global audience,” Valhalla CEO Gale Anne Hurd says. All Nippon Entertainment Works CEO Sandy Climan helped to engineer the collaboration. His company has an initial capitalization of $80M and a mandate, as he puts it, “to bring the highest quality Japanese stories to a global audience in partnership with world-class producers.” Hurd will be lead producer for Gaiking. Ikezawa and Joseph Chou, also with Toei, will be producers. Climan, Tim Kwok, and Kozo Morishita of Toei are executive producing. Valhalla’s Director of Development Kris Henigman, Director will oversee development along with All Nipon’s VP of Creative Affairs Annmarie Bailey.
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