Japanese manga and graphic novel publisher VIZ Media is starting a production company to create films from their catalogue, including NARUTO, BLEACH and DEATH NOTE.
Jason Hoffs, former production exec at Amblin and DreamWorks, will head up the company, based in Hollywood.
Japanese publishing houses Shogakukan, Shueisha and Hakusensha are the parent companies. Those three publish almost half of all manga that comes to the U.S.
Hoffs will be a mediator between the creative licensors in Japan and Hollywood, with VIZ Prods. to develop some titles in house.
"VIZ Productions will give Hollywood a unique conduit to some of the most innovative and unique entertainment properties from Japan. Hollywood has always looked to comic books and graphic novels and has recently discovered the untapped pool of Japanese manga for development into live action features. Worldwide, the creators of manga are viewed as artists, and the rich storylines are already a hit with the coveted 12-34 demographic," Hoffs said.
VIZ is just one of many publishing companies taking the Japanese example and setting up production pipelines for their own content. Newspaper giant THE NEW YORK TIMES and videogame company Capcom have also recently announced film projects, per VARIETY.