Asmik changes focus with Arias signing

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TOKYO -- Tokyo-based distribution and production company Asmik Ace Entertainment said Monday that it is expanding into artist management to take advantage of Japan's domestic movie industry, signing anime director Michael Arias to direct, produce and supervise special effects.

Arias began his career at Dream Quest Images and worked on such titles as "The Abyss" and "Total Recall" before moving to Japan in the early 1990s. Regarded as an innovator of three-dimensional software, he also worked with DreamWorks Animation on "Prince of Egypt" and Studio Ghibli's animated classics "Princess Mononoke" and "Spirited Away."

"Japanese films are doing well at the moment and are strong in overseas markets," an Asmik spokesman said. "We are looking to build on that for the long term as well as the immediate future."

Arias will make his feature film debut with "Tekkonkinkreet," based on the popular manga by Taiyo Matsumoto, and is directing a short animated film for Japanese public television.

Another Arias project in pre-production is a live-action feature to be produced and distributed by Asmik Ace.

The company recently expanded into international co-productions, the first of which is the Canada-Italy-Japan title "Silk."
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