WB involvement with Japanese films

Alex Zahlten Alex.Zahlten at gmx.de
Mon Feb 5 10:18:31 EST 2007

I don't actually think Warner's involvement can simply be reduced to one persons involvement, though that always figures in more than one might think. But Warner Brothers has been feeling out possiblilities for producing outside of Hollywood for quite a while. In 2004 they invested in a company that was formed to produce A Very Long Engagement in France. This company also applied for subsidies from the French government and these were (if I remember correctly) originally granted, but other French producers sued, claiming that the company was only a front for Hollywood and that the film was not really a "French" film - much to the chagrin of director Jeunet. The court eventually agreed that the film wouldn't be eligible for subsidies, i.e. despite a crew, staff and cast that consisted almost entirely of people with French passports working in France. Oliver Stone's Alexander, on the other hand, recieved subsidies from the French government without legal wrangling.

So the nationality of a film is at the center of a legal and critical discussion- Aaron (no doubt consciously and polemically) phrased the question by asking if Hollywood (whatever it may be) is "invading the market for Japanese films". That is certainly a thought that might have crossed some Japanese critics' and industry figures' minds as well, but is it an adequate way to think about (these) films? I remember that the Deutsche Bank owned a stake of somewhere between 1-2% of Toei, at least until two years ago. Does that make Toei films 1-2% German? How "American" is Death Note, and how "Japanese" is Takashi Shimizu's Hollywood remake of The Grudge?(How "American" is Hollywood, for that matter, which produced loads of films with hundreds of millions of Dollars funneled in from german tax shelter film funds throughout the 1990s?)
In production and distribution, film has been pretty transnational from the beginning. But has that quality changed, or are the discourses surrounding it changing? Is there a specific quality this discourse when it turns to "Japanese" film? Jason, can you give some more information on how media in Japan reacted to Death Note?


-------- Original-Nachricht --------
Datum: Sun, 4 Feb 2007 14:30:06 +0900 (JST)
Von: Jason Gray <loaded_films at yahoo.co.jp>
An: KineJapan at lists.acs.ohio-state.edu
Betreff: WB involvement with Japanese films

> I've mentioned this new development in Screen Int'l and it
> basically comes down to Warner Entertainment Japan
> president William Ireton. He's long been involved with WB
> here and before that Toho-Towa (Toho's foreign film dist.
> arm).
> http://www.timewarner.com/corp/newsroom/pr/0,20812,1195429,00.html
> The Death Note series was the first in a new mandate to
> get involved creatively with Japanese productions. The
> franchise turned out to be WB's biggest release of the
> year. 
> Brave Story, on the other hand, was a Fuji TV/Gonzo
> project that WB picked up for theatrical distribution.
> Brave Story did manage to crack the Y1b watermark, but
> with a $10m budget and high marketing costs it definitely
> wasn't a hit compared to the other major animated releases
> of the year. 
> Ireton also helped with Eastwood's "Letters From Iwo Jima"
> project by coordinating interviews with veterans, Gen.
> Kuribayashi's grandson etc.
> With UIP Japan probably dissolving as it has in other
> territories, it'll be interesting to see what other
> Hollywood studios follow suit and start getting involved
> creatively with Japanese films here. Though Ireton is a
> special case since he's lived here for decades.
> Jason Gray
> http://www.screendaily.com
> http://jasongray.blogspot.com
> --- KineJapan at lists.acs.ohio-state.edu wrote:
> > 
> > 			    KINEJAPAN Digest 2031
> > 
> > Topics covered in this issue include:
> > 
> >   1) Re: For the first time in 21 years...
> > 	by Mark Nornes <amnornes at umich.edu>
> > > Date:Sat, 3 Feb 2007 17:47:09 -0500
> > From:Mark Nornes <amnornes at umich.edu>
> > To:KineJapan at lists.acs.ohio-state.edu
> > Subject:Re: For the first time in 21 years...
> > 
> > 
> > On Feb 1, 2007, at 9:01 AM, Aaron Gerow wrote:
> > 
> > > One other significant development is the
> > appearance of Warner  
> > > Brothers on the chart of Japanese film
> > distributors, sporting major  
> > > hits with the two Death Note films and Brave
> > Heart. Can Hollywood  
> > > be making up for its losses in the Japanese market
> > by invading the  
> > > market for Japanese films?
> > 
> > Thanks, Aaron, for writing that post. It was very
> > interesting. It  
> > sparks a question, tho:
> > 
> > Can anyone explain what's behind this? Warners has
> > been distributing  
> > in Japan for decades洋eaning they had an office in
> > Tokyo that was  
> > deeply involved in the marketing and translation of
> > its films. I  
> > don't know the details beyond that, but the
> > situation Aaron describes  
> > above suggests a shift of some sort or another.
> > Anyone know?
> > 
> > Markus
> --------------------------------------
> Start Yahoo! Auction now! Check out the cool campaign
> http://pr.mail.yahoo.co.jp/auction/

alex at nipponconnection.de

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