Japanese Government-Backed Company Focused on Hollywood Remakes Sold to Venture Capital Firm

Ghost Train Poster - P 2014
Courtesy of B/HImpact

Ghost Train Poster - P 2014

The money-losing All Nippon Entertainment Works focuses on licensing Japanese IP to Hollywood, but has been beset by problems since its launch.

Future Venture Capital (FVC) will take over loss-making All Nippon Entertainment Works (ANEW), a company launched in 2011 by a government-backed fund to license Japanese content for Hollywood remakes, on June 8 for an undisclosed sum.

ANEW was founded with around $80 million from the Innovation Network Corporation of Japan (INCJ), a fund backed 95 percent by the government, with the remainder coming from major Japanese corporations, including Sharp, Hitachi, Toshiba, Sumitomo and TEPCO.

"INCJ doesn't announce figures for the sale of individual companies it has invested in, just overall numbers for the year," an ICNJ representative told The Hollywood Reporter, adding that the Kyoto-headquartered FVC fund was chosen as a buyer partly because it was active in the U.S.

While a number of projects that ANEW is involved in are at various stages of development in Hollywood, including a remake of Takashi Miike's 2013 cop thriller Shield of Straw, a remake of 2006 horror Otoshimono titled Ghost Train and a live-action adaptation of hit anime series Tiger & Bunny, nothing has yet come to fruition.

Publicly funded ANEW has burned through more than ?1.8 billion ($16 million), having opened an office in Los Angeles run by veteran producer Sandy Climan, who was appointed CEO of the company in 2012. The arrangement appears to have been a winner for Climan, who has been named as producer on most of its projects, effectively getting paid at both ends.

A lack of transparency around the bidding process for ANEW has also raised concerns.

"How was that fund chosen? This is public money; there should have been an open auction. The way ANEW has worked has been nonsense since the beginning," said film producer Hiro Masuda.

ANEW personnel in Tokyo have been replaced repeatedly, following criticism that initial appointments were made up of government staff with little or no knowledge of the entertainment industry.

One of the justifications for establishing ANEW was that it would speed up the chain of title clearances for remakes, often extremely time-consuming with Japanese IP. However, Future Venture Capital wrote in its press release about the takeover that being a private fund would allow it to move more quickly than a government-backed entity.

A request for comment from ANEW wasn't immediately answered.