EXCLUSIVE: Asian Media Rights Bringing Titles From the East to U.S. Households Starting Dec. 1

Asian Crush will reach 50 million households across the U.S. on such systems as Comcast and Time Warner Cable.

Multiplatform distributor Asian Media Rights' new Asian Crush label will launch Dec. 1 bringing popular titles from the East to 50 million households across the U.S. on systems such as Comcast and Time Warner Cable, company founders David Chu and Michael Hong said Saturday at the American Film Market.

With a library of 180 films, including 11 new titles bought at AFM this week, Chu and Hong, whose former basic cable company ImaginAsian TV made them a name in the market starting in 2003, now are firmly focused on the cable, satellite, video-on-demand and telecoms platforms.

"For bigger companies, the distribution paradigm shift can be more frightening," said Hong, the lean and mean New York-based company's Korean American managing partner said. "Many North American distributors don't have contacts in VOD, but we do. We're here to help content get to the local Asian communities and the community of Asian film fans."

At AFM, Asian Crush picked up 11 titles from Japan's pictures dept. and Dongyu Club, including three 2010 titles: Time Traveler, by Masaaki Taniguchi, The Last Days of the World, by Eji Uchida, and Daisuke Miura's Boys on the Run, which the Village Voice described as "Judd Apatow dick-comedy done Japanese-style."

Promoting Asian Crush titles to Asian film web sites, including Anime News Network, to the New York Asian Film Festival crowd and to about 2,000 local English- and Asian-language print, TV and radio media in North American cities with big Asian populations, Chu and Hong also expect to capture a wider audience of fans now demanding Asian popular culture more than ever before.

"I'd bet about 75% of our viewers are going to be non-Asian," said Chu, also a Korean American, who helped land the company and the Asian Crush label on the Cox and Bresnan cable systems, too. "We're going to give all our outlets 30-second spots for multi-platform promotion."

Asian Crush will debut on Dec. 1 with director Jang Hun's 2010 box office hit spy thriller Secret Reunion from Shobox, and the 2007 Japanese sci-fi romance anime hit The Girl Who Leapt Through Time from director Mamoru Hosoda, the Madhouse studio and Bandai.

Hong and Chu's previous venture, ImaginAsian TV was an advertising-based linear cable channel that was the first Asian content channel ever to do a deal with Comcast, the largest American cable operator and now the owner of NBC.

ImaginAsian also opened two movie theaters -- one in New York and one in Los Angeles – and did some original programming, including a show with Trevor Moore of The Whitest Kids You Know called Uncle Monty's Dub Shack – "A sort of Mystery Science Theater for Asian films," Hong said.

But after five years of hard work in basic cable and the quickening of the digital revolution, ImaginAsian was proving a challenge. Chu and Hong sold their New York theater, where their regular Bollywood programming made it Gotham's highest-grossing single-screen theater, to Adlabs of India.

Asian Media Rights and the Asian Crush label are, Hong said, "not only a professional mission for us but, as Asian Americans, a personal mission."