Netflix Leases Soundstages at Japan's Toho Studios

Toho Studios Japan
Courtesy of Toho Studios

Toho Studios

The production footprint expansion follows similar deals in South Korea, and comes as Japan emerges as Netflix's largest revenue market in Asia.

Netflix is locking down production space in Japan, as the streamer continues to expand its footprint in the developed markets of East Asia.

The company said Thursday that it has inked an agreement with Japan's legendary Toho Studios, home of Godzilla and Akira Kurosawa, for access to two soundstages and additional facilities in southwest Tokyo. The agreement begins in April and will span "several years," Netflix said.

Netflix plans to shoot two of its most ambitious live-action Japanese originals at Toho Studios later this year: the drama thriller Sanctuary, which is a gritty look at the underbelly of the Sumo wrestling world, and Yu Yu Hakusho, a supernatural teen detective series based on the famed manga of the same name.

Netflix said it plans to release over 25 original live-action and anime titles from Japan this year. Recent third-party research has suggested that Japan is becoming Netflix's largest revenue market in Asia — a region vital to the company's continued growth ambitions.

To date, Netflix has primarily focussed on co-producing and licensing Japanese anime content, a reflection of the genre's potent global popularity. But after a relatively slow start, the streamer's live-action Japanese output has begun to ramp up. Forthcoming releases include the second season of hit series The Naked Director and the movies Ride or Die, We Couldn't Become Adults and Asakusa Kid.

"This new partnership comes as we continue to bet big on stories from Japan," wrote Ozawa Teiji, Netflix's Japan manager for production and live action, in a blog post published Thursday. "As huge fans of Japanese culture and storytelling, we’re thrilled to continue working closely with the local creative community to bring these stories to our members around the world."

Added Mitsuru Shimada, CEO of Toho Studios: "Since opening doors in 1932, we've welcomed a wide variety of filmmakers, streaming projects and commercial creators from around the world. We’re thrilled that Netflix is joining our roster of amazing talent at Toho Studio."

The Japan studio lease follows Netflix's recent sizable expansion of its footprint in South Korea. In January, the company announced deals securing nine stages and 172,000 square feet (16,000 square meters) of production space outside Seoul.