Disney Partners with Nippon TV for Original Broadcast, Streaming Content in Japan

Nippon TV Holdings, the parent company of Nippon TV, March 10 announced a strategic collaboration with The Walt Disney Company to include co-production of local language content ranging from drama series, animation to variety shows on Disney+ for both Japanese and global audiences. Nippon TV also owns Hulu Japan.

The latest season of Nippon TV’s enduring (since 1995) drama series, “The Files of Young Kindaichi” (starring Shunsuke Michieda from Naniwa Danshi), will begin broadcasting on Nippon TV in April, and thereafter will be made available on Disney+ for Japanese and worldwide audiences.

Based on an original manga boasting more than 100 million copies in circulation across 12 countries, the new fifth season of “The Files of Young Kindaichi” marks the first time that Nippon TV content will become available to viewers globally on Disney’s direct-to-consumer platform.

Yoshikuni Sugiyama, president, Nippon Television Holdings, said the company has worked together with Disney on many business initiatives, notably broadcast of Disney titles on “Friday Roadshow.”

“I look forward to leveraging the creativity, vast reach, and brand power that both companies possess to deliver Japan’s content to viewers the world over,” Sugiyama said in a statement.

Carol Choi, managing director, The Walt Disney Company (Japan) Ltd., said the partnership underscores Disney’s move into local content production across foreign markets.

“This is a perfect fit for Disney as we focus on stories that connect people across generations and places, and stories that move people,” Choi said. “We look forward to more long-term collaborative opportunities with Japanese creators, so as to bring … Japan’s creative excellence to the global stage.”

Crime Drama Series ‘Tokyo Vice’ Starring Ansel Elgort Headed to HBO Max April 28

The Max Original crime drama series “Tokyo Vice,” starring Ansel Elgort, will debut April 7 on HBO Max with three episodes, followed by two episodes debuting every Thursday leading up to the finale on April 28.
 
The first episode of the series, from Endeavor Content and Japanese pay-TV broadcaster WOWOW, will debut in Japan via WOWOW’s streaming service on April 7 with subsequent episodes recurring every Sunday evening on the WOWOW channel starting on April 24 through June.
 
Loosely inspired by American journalist Jake Adelstein’s nonfiction first-hand account of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police beat, the series, filmed on location in Tokyo, captures Adelstein’s (Elgort) daily descent into the neon-soaked underbelly of Tokyo in the late 1990s.
 
The series also stars Ken Watanabe, Rinko Kikuchi, Rachel Keller, Ella Rumpf, Hideaki Ito, Show Kasamatsu and Tomohisa Yamashita. 

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Tony Award-winning playwright J.T. Rogers created and wrote the series and also serves as executive producer. Four-time Academy Award nominee and Emmy winner Michael Mann directed the pilot and is an executive producer along with Emmy winner Alan Poul, Jake Adelstein, Ansel Elgort, Emmy winner Emily Gerson Saines, Brad Kane, Destin Daniel Cretton, Ken Watanabe, Kayo Washio and Academy Award winner John Lesher.

‘Ultraman Zero: The Chronicle — The Complete Series’ Available on Blu-ray From Mill Creek and Distribution Solutions

Ultraman Zero: The Chronicle — The Complete Series is available now on Blu-ray from Mill Creek Entertainment and Distribution Solutions. 

In the series, a wormhole in space forms just outside the Earth’s atmosphere and monstrous creatures descend upon the world’s cities. A top-secret global defense organization code-named Guard is established to counter the attacks.

Young Gam Takayama discovers the power to transform himself into the gigantic superhero Ultraman Gaia, and joins X.I.G., Guard’s frontline defense team. A second Ultraman appears. Is this new colossus friend or foe?

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‘Ultraman Dyna’ Series Heading to DVD Nov. 16 From Mill Creek

“Ultraman Dyna,” the second series in the three-part “Ultraman” collection, will be released in a six-disc DVD collection Nov. 16 from Mill Creek Entertainment.

The series includes Japanese audio with English subtitles and a full episode guide.

The exclusive collection is made possible by Mill Creek’s license of the available “Ultraman” back-catalog via international distribution company Indigo Entertainment from Tsuburaya Productions Co., Ltd.

“Ultraman Dyna” features 51 episodes from season one and two specials “Ultraman Tiga” and “Ultraman Dyna: Warriors of the Star of Light,” and “Ultraman Dyna: Return of Hanejiro.” The series showcases the events seven years after “Ultraman Tiga,” where humanity has embarked on the Neo Frontier project of building settlements throughout the solar system. When a massive insect-like monster attacks the Martian village without warning, a colossal Tiga-like humanoid appears to fight the monster. Ultraman Dyna is the new warrior, a being of light born after a light joined with Agent Asuka of the Super GUTS Team, to wage war against the marauding aliens and monsters that threaten humanity. Tiga and Dyna would eventually team up in the theatrical movie Warriors of the Star of Light.

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FilmRise, Fuji Television Partner for ‘Iron Chef’ Cooking Competition Show

FilmRise Oct. 11 announced a deal with Fuji Television Network, through its distribution arm Fuji Creative Corporation, to bring domestic and international audiences all 290 episodes of the Japanese culinary cook-off series, “Iron Chef.”

The New York-based distributor has secured all SVOD and AVOD rights and will also present the series on its FilmRise Streaming Network. The announcement was made jointly by Max Einhorn, SVP of acquisitions and co-productions of FilmRise, and Masaru Akiyama, senior manager at Fuji Television Network.

On the show, no expense is spared as the chefs seem to have almost limitless supplies of the most exotic and expensive gourmet ingredients. The competition, hosted by Chairman Kaga, introduces a “secret ingredient” that the challenger and the chosen Iron Chef has to incorporate into every dish.

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Each chef presents his or her dishes to a panel of judges who rate the dishes to crown a winner. All of the competitions occur in a specially designed “kitchen stadium.”

“‘Iron Chef’ is a legendary brand and the true godfather of the modern cooking competition format and, as the originator of the secret-ingredient showdown and standard-setter for theatrics and drama, it’s easy to see why an entire American network reinvented itself after seeing the program,” Einhorn said in a statement. “We look forward to offering it to old and new fans to stream around the world.”

After the series completed its run in Japan in 1999, eight international territories created their own editions, including “Iron Chef: America,” “Iron Chef: Israel,” “Iron Chef: UK,” “Iron Chef: Australia,” “Iron Chef: Thailand,” “Iron Chef: Indonesia,” “Iron Chef: Vietnam,” and “Iron Chef: Canada,” boosting its international loyal cult following.

The deal was negotiated by Jonitha Keymoore at FilmRise and Francois Grosjean at Fuji Creative Corporation.

Amazon Prime Video, Not Netflix, Tops Japan Video Streaming Market

Amazon Prime Video leads the subscription VOD market in Japan with 26% of video streaming minutes and more than 15 million monthly active users, according to new data from Media Partners Asia. That bests perennial market leader Netflix, which has 10% of video streaming minutes and 6 million subscribers. Hulu Japan, which is owned by Nippon TV, has three million subs.

Amazon first entered the Japanese market in 2000 selling books online. The e-commerce segment has helped drive Prime Video awareness since its arrival in 2016 — a year after Netflix entered the market.

Interestingly, about 25% of Netflix consumer consumption is driven by Korean dramas, while U.S. content drives 15%. Netflix’s original programming drive 10% of platform viewership.

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The MPA data, which covers the time period from January to August, found that 44 million Japanese subscribed to a SVOD service during that time.

Notably, Netflix trailed two other Japanese streaming services. TVer is a TV consortium that streams local dramas, variety, news and sports. TVer captured 16% of the video streaming market, while ad-supported VOD platform AbemaTV had 11% market share. The platform, co-owned by CyberAgent and TV Asahi, is driven by sports, including Major League Baseball, original dramas, local content and live events.

“The premium video segment in Japan is increasingly competitive,” Vivek Couto, executive director at MPA, said in a statement. “Local content is critical, as illustrated by broadcast TV-consortium owned TVer’s growth over 2020-21, while Prime Video and Netflix’s licensed anime libraries have contributed over 40% of consumption on the platforms during 2021. More competition and category expansion is imminent as Disney+ expands with Star and local content in October.”

Japanese Horror Film ‘Evil Dead Trap’ Due on DVD and Blu-ray Aug. 24 From MVD

The 1988 Japanese horror flick Evil Dead Trap will come out on Blu-ray and DVD Aug. 24 from MVD Entertainment Group and Unearthed Films.

In the slasher, a TV station employee takes a camera crew out to an abandoned factory to investigate a purported snuff film that was made there, only to end up running for her life. Nami, who hosts a late night home video program, receives a tape which appears to be a real snuff film. She and her crew investigate the location where she meets a man looking for his brother who warns her to stay away.

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Special features include audio commentary with director Toshiharu Ikeda and SPFX manager Shinichi Wakasa; audio commentary by filmmaker Kurando Mitsutake (Karate Kill, Gun Woman); audio commentary with James Mudge of easternKicks; “Trappings of the Dead, Reflecting on a Japanese Cult Classic”; storyboards; behind-the-scenes stills; promotional artwork; and the trailer.

TiVo Renews Product and Patent License Agreements With Panasonic

TiVo has renewed product and patent license agreements with Panasonic Corporation. Panasonic signed a new multiyear extension of the company’s products for the Japan market, including G-Guide, G-Guide HTML and G-Guide xD, enabling Panasonic to continue providing advanced entertainment discovery experiences across its TV, DVR and set-top box products.

The agreement also commits Panasonic to deploying the newly released OTT-Link functionality that enables consumers to deep link directly into content from within TiVo’s G-Guide, a content recommendation software platform.

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TiVo has spent decades investing in research and development to create technologies licensed to the media and entertainment industry. TiVo’s innovations make it easier for viewers to find, watch and record all their content across a multitude of platforms.

“Our continued collaboration with Panasonic to build and deploy innovative content discovery solutions is strengthened with this new agreement,” Matt Milne, chief revenue officer with TiVo parent Xperi, said in a statement.

Amazon Prime Video Streaming Japanese Anime Movie ‘Evangelion:3.0+1.01 Thrice Upon a Time’ Aug. 13

Amazon Prime Video Aug. 13 is streaming the global premiere (outside of Japan) of Japanese anime movie Evangelion:3.0+1.01 Thrice Upon a Time. The movie is the fourth and final chapter in the theatrical franchise that has been the most-watched movie in Japan in 2021.

To celebrate the finale of the franchise, Prime Video will also release the three previous movies, Evangelion:1.11 You Are (Not) Alone, Evangelion:2.22 You Can (Not) Advance, Evangelion:3.33 You Can (Not) Redo in more than 240 countries and territories.

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The franchise is based on the story of Evangelion, an artificial human and multipurpose humanoid weapon, and the Angels, an unknown life-form which takes place after the Earth has been shattered by a cataclysmic event.

The movies will be dubbed in 10 languages including English, French, German, Portuguese, Spanish and Italian, and offer subtitles in 28 languages.

“The Evangelion films have been thrilling Japanese fans for years and we know that there is a huge appetite around the world for the finale,” Brad Beale, VP, worldwide content licensing Prime Video, said in a statement.

Horror Film ‘The Stylist,’ Sam Peckinpah’s ‘Major Dundee’ Among Titles on Blu-ray from MVD and Arrow in June

The horror film The Stylist, Italian crime thrillers from the 1970s, Sam Peckinpah’s Major Dundee and the Japanese film Irezumi are coming to Blu-ray Disc in June from MVD Entertainment Group and Arrow Video.

The Stylist, due June 8, is a female-led psychological horror film nominated for the New Visions Award for Best Motion Picture at the 2020 Sitges International Film Festival and based on co-writer/director Jill Gevargizian’s award-winning short film of the same name. We all dream of being someone else, but for Claire (Najarra Townsend, Contracted), that dream goes from an obsession to a living nightmare. Hairstylist by day, serial killer and collector of scalps by night, Claire’s lonely existence is thrown into turmoil when her regular client, Olivia (Brea Grant, After Midnight, Lucky), asks her to style her hair for her wedding day. Increasingly fixated on Olivia’s seemingly flawless life, Claire vows to lock up her scalp collection and change her ways for good — only to discover that repressing deadly desires is easier said than done.

Coming on Blu-ray Disc June 22 is Years of Lead: Five Classic Italian Crime Thrillers 1973-1977. The 1970s were a time of intense uncertainty and instability in Italy. Political corruption and widespread acts of left and right-wing terrorism, alongside a breakdown in social cohesion and a loss of trust in public institutions such as the government and police, created a febrile atmosphere of cynicism, paranoia and unexploded rage. Throughout this period, these sentiments found expression in a series of brutal, often morally ambiguous crime thrillers which tapped into the atmosphere of violence and instability that defined the so-called “Years of Lead.” This box set gathers five films from the heyday of the “poliziotteschi” — the umbrella term used to describe this diverse body of films. In Vittorio Salerno’s Savage Three (1975) and Mario Imperoli’s Like Rabid Dogs (1976), random acts of violence committed by vicious young sociopaths threaten the fragile fabric of respectable society. In Massimo Dallamano’s Colt 38 Special Squad (1976) and Stelvio Massi’s Highway Racer (1977), renegade cops battling against red tape and political corruption turn to new and morally dubious methods to dispense justice. Finally, class dynamics are explored in Salerno’s No, the Case is Happily Resolved (1973) as an innocent man finds himself under suspicion for a savage crime committed by a highly respected member of society. The collection features a  line-up of Euro-cult stars, including Joe Dallesandro (The Climber), Ivan Rassimov (Your Vice Is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key), Maurizio Merli (Violent City) and Enrico Maria Salerno (The Bird With the Crystal Plumage).

Due on Blu-ray June 22 is the 1966 Japanese film Irezumi. Drawn from the pen of one of Japan’s foremost writers of the 20th century, Junichiro Tanizaki (A Fool’s Love, The Makioka Sisters), Irezumi is a tale of lust, betrayal and revenge directed by Yasuzo Masumura (Giants and Toys, Blind Beast). Masumura’s muse Ayako Wakao (The Blue Sky Maiden, Red Angel) stars as Otsuya, the daughter of a rich merchant, who is tempted by her lover Shinsuke, a lowly employee of her father’s, to elope. During their flight, Otsuya’s beauty attracts the gaze of Seikichi, a mysterious master tattooist who sees her pristine white skin as the perfect canvas for his art. The image of the large demonic spider that he emblazons across Otsuya’s back marks her as the property of another man, radically altering her relationships with all around her as her personality transforms under its influence. Available for the first time outside of Japan in a new 4K restoration, Irezumi sports some of Japanese cinema’s most respected talent of its day both in front of and behind the camera. The cinematography by Kazuo Miyagawa (Rashomon, Ugetsu) captures the sensual atmosphere of the period setting, while the script by Kaneto Shindo (Onibaba, Kuroneko) lends a modern twist to this feverish meditation on obsession and the act of creation.

After making his classic in Ride the High Country, director Sam Peckinpah took a step towards the epic with 1965’s Major Dundee, coming out on Blu-ray June 29. The drama behind the camera matched the action in front of it. Charlton Heston stars as Major Amos Dundee, a vainglorious Union Cavalry officer, who mounts an expedition to hunt down Apache war chief Sierra Charriba. Building his own army of criminals, ex-slaves and Confederate POWs — among them one Captain Ben Tyreen (Richard Harris), whose intense former friendship with Dundee is tainted with a sense of betrayal on both sides — Dundee heads into Mexico, his eye fixed firmly on a last shot at greatness. Legendarily acerbic, Major Dundee would be the first time that Peckinpah had a movie taken away from him. While a director’s cut may be lost to us, the limited edition shows the thrilling, morally complex epic that Peckinpah was aiming for. The stellar supporting cast includes James Coburn, Warren Oates and L.Q. Jones.