Time for our first interview. First one is some questions answered by the fine folks at Viz Pictures. I helped come up with the questions with our new staff member Kevin, who got the interview with Viz Pictures set up. You guys should get to see some reviews and other articles from him soon.
We tried to ask some interesting questions and even asked a few questions we expected would just get a ‘no comment’ from but got some good answers (yay for question 7!). Interview questions after the break
1. How was VIZ Pictures founded?
VIZ Pictures was founded in 2005 by Mr. Seiji Horibuchi, who also founded VIZ Media. He started licensing Japanese live-action films while he was still the CEO of VIZ Media. When he became chairman,he was able to use more of his time for licensing films. Soon after he founded a new company focused on acquisition and distribution of Japanese live-action films.
2. How closely does VIZ Pictures work with VIZ Media, in relation to distribution, production, etc…?
As sister companies, we definitely work together in marketing. VIZ Pictures has licensed many movies that originated from manga or anime titles that VIZ Media has licensed, such as Death Note and Nana, so this gives us opportunity to promote the brand together. VIZ Media is also our DVD distributor, so we work closely with their sales team.
3. Why doesn’t VIZ Pictures handle all of the films released by VIZ Media (i.e., the Naruto and Bleach movies)?
VIZ Pictures was made specifically for live-action film licensing, and to take on new projects. Alongside our film business, we are currently working on “a J-pop center project” to build a fun commercial building in San Francisco that will house our own “VIZ cinema” theatre, a gallery and other Japanese retailers. Of course we plan to screen some of VIZ’s anime at our cinema.
4. How do you think the American audience has taken to the Japanese films you have released?
It’s catching on. Foreign movies have a harder time translating into the mass market because of subtitles and cultural differences, BUT our fans are definitely growing in number. Manga-to-live-action films have helped draw our audience to watch our movies. The Death Note movies are great examples, as they were very well received. We also try to focus on entertaining movies with positive messages that may not find a distributor here otherwise. If it’s a movie we want to recommend to our fans, we will acquire the rights so that it is available and attainable in U.S. and Canada.
5. How has your partnership with Fathom worked out, and can the fans expect to see future theatrical screenings through Fathom?
It’s been great. It’s a new way to show our films, and to more people at once. I think the limited run of “two nights only” gives our theatrical release more of an “event” feel. Considering that we screened Death Note and Death Note II: The Last Name with Fathom, the gathering at the event was the best way for fans to go see our movies in groups. It’s fun!
We are doing another Death Note event with Fathom / National CineMedia. This time it’s Death Note: L, change the WorLd on April 29th and 30th for two nights only at over 400 theatres. What’s special about this event is that we have prepared both subtitled AND English dubbed versions of the movie, so the fans can pick the night they want to go see it. This is a first, and it’s great for the fans who prefer their films a particular way.
Tickets go on sale at www.fathomevents.com on March 23rd. You will also be able to find your nearest theater on the same site. Make sure you choose your nights accordingly.
4/30 English dubbed
Also check out www.DeathNoteFilms.com for movie, cast and other info.
6. How have the Canadian theatrical screenings worked out? Is there anything Canadian fans can look forward to as well?
Canadian screenings have been great, too. We have not scheduled a third event with Canadian cinema chains but we plan to heavily screen Death Note: L, change the WorLd at Canadian anime conventions this year, so if you have a convention in Canada, please let us know!
7. Do you have any plans to release any BluRay format movies for your future or current titles?
We are definitely interested, but it’s still in the planning stages. If we do, it will most likely be released as a box set or a special edition.
8. Is there any news on the “American movie adaptation” front for VIZ’s franchises?
We get calls from Hollywood quite often, but not many proposals seem to make it to production.
9. Is VIZ involved in the production of the upcoming American Death Note movies at all?
Not in the production, but I’m sure we will be having opportunities to promote the movie together just like VIZ Media is doing for the live-action Dragonball movie.
10. Are there any upcoming films or initiatives that fans can look forward to from VIZ Pictures?
Yes! We are coming out with the DVD Happily Ever After, based on a popular Japanese comic strip, in May. We recommend this movie to foreign film and comedy fans. Also, in relation to the “L” event that I mentioned above, the Death Note: L, change the WorLd DVD will come out this summer. And more to come!
11. And finally, do you have any messages for the fans?
Thank you! Your support allows us to bring more fun stuff from Japan. We hope to continue building our film library, and deliver it to more fans in U.S. and Canada. Also, I hope you all get a chance to visit San Francisco and come to our new building (opening in August). You can easily spend the whole day surrounded by art, cool products, foods and movies from Japan! We look forward to seeing you there!
-VIZ Pictures Team
Thanks again to the Viz Pictures team for our first interview and to Kevin for setting it up and helping with all the questions (guy does great work, really glad he volunteered for the site).
Tune in later in the weekend for a contest with a nice stack of DVD prizes (not Viz Pictures related, just felt it was a good time to mention the contest).