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Veteran Japanese film producer Muneyuki Kii has assembled a bold new venture to shake up Japan’s traditionally sclerotic and risk-averse approach to movie financing. The executive, formerly a lead producer at Tokyo-based studio Toei, revealed the launch Thursday of K2 Pictures, a mini-studio that aims to bring a more direct, Hollywood-style model of film funding to Japan’s industry. 

The new company will launch a content fund — dubbed the “K2P Film Fund I” — to finance both live-action and animated Japanese features. K2P also has lined up an impressive roster of Japanese directors to collaborate with on its first slate, including Palme d’Or winner Hirokazu Kore-eda (Shoplifters), local industry mainstay Takashi Miike (Ichi the Killer, 13 Assassins), Shunji Iwai (Love Letter), Miwa Nishikawa (Sway), Kazuya Shiraishi (The Devil’s Path), and leading anime studio MAPPA, known for mega-hits like JUJUTSU KAISEN 0 and Attack on Titan.

Kii will serve as K2P’s CEO, while other senior leadership at launch include Tetsuro Koda, co-founder of Japanese gaming and comics publishing company Akatsuki, and Fred Schmidt, chairman in Asia for investment management company BentallGreenOak. Kii spent over 25 years at Toei, producing both live-action and anime features. Some highlights include: Hideaki Anno’s Evangelion: 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo and Shin Kamen Rider, Takehiko Inoue’s The First Slam Dunk, Iwai’s Kyrie and Miike’s First Love, among many others.

For decades, most Japanese movies have been made under the country’s so-called “production committee” system, whereby a group of film companies, TV stations and publishers — often as many as 10 entities — band together to co-finance a project. Although an effective means of reducing financial risk for established industry participants, the system has long been subject to criticism for the way it stifles creative risk-taking, limits outside investment, and diminishes the negotiating power of artists. 

“We seek to create a new method, evolving this film ecosystem into one of ‘film production funds,’ following an approach used in Hollywood and around the world,” K2 Pictures said in a statement. “This new film ecosystem at which K2 Pictures aims will enrich film production by returning profits traditionally accruing to traditional film companies to both investors and creators.”

The company’s launch comes at a time when many analysts are becoming bullish on the Japanese entertainment sector’s growing international potential. The company’s fund will give investors in Japan and overseas a new avenue for participating in high-profile Japanese entertainment projects. 

“Through the launch of K2 Pictures, we’re aiming to bring a major revolution to the Japanese film industry, while also giving new domestic and overseas investors the chance to enter this flourishing industry,” says Kii. “It’s clear there is growing interest in Japanese-related content around the world, so we are committed to making our local film industry more active, fairer and profitable in the global marketplace, while also building a robust content pipeline that promises to captivate audiences.”

To mark the launch of the company and fund, K2 Pictures will host a presentation during the upcoming Cannes Film Festival. The event will take place at the JW Marriott hotel on May 18 at 12:45 p.m., including appearances by Miwa Nishikawa and Takashi Miike.

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