Toho, Japan’s leading film studio, has launched a subsidiary to provide production services for the growing number of international productions filming in the country.
Toho Tombo Pictures has been established as a joint venture with Tokyo-based producer Georgina Pope, one of Japan’s most experienced and well-known bilingual production experts.
At launch, the company will primarily support global entertainment brands seeking to develop features and TV series throughout Japan, but will also offer services to companies producing commercials, documentaries and music videos. It will combine Toho’s production facilities, including Toho Studios, with Pope’s knowledge and personal connections in Japan.
Australia-born Pope was previously head of production at Twenty First City, establishing the company as Tokyo’s leading international production service company. Among the films and series she has supported are Equals, starring Kristen Stewart and Nicholas Hoult, produced alongside Ridley Scott’s Scott Free, as well as series such as HBO’s Girls, Queer Eye We Are in Japan, Amazon’s Mozart in the Jungle, Giri/Haji for the BBC and Netflix, and Apple TV+ series Invasion
More recently, she was a producer on 10 episodes of upcoming Apple TV+ series Sunny, a dark futuristic comedy from A24 that stars Rashida Jones and Hidetoshi Nishijima, of Oscar-winner Drive My Car, which proved one of the biggest international projects to shoot in Japan for several years
Toho Tombo Pictures will be led by Mitsuru Shimada, president of Toho Studios, who will now also serve as representative director of the new company. Pope will be working as a director along with Koji Ueda and Tetsushi sudo. Ueda also serves as vice president and general manager of Toho’s US subsidiary Toho International, and is the company’s international business manager. Sudo is a Toho Studios executive.
“In recent years, we have seen an increase in foreign productions developing stories to shoot in Japan, and feel our industry needs to fully prepare and be ready to offer top notch production services,” said Hiro Matsuoka, representative director and president of Toho. “By establishing a firm dedicated to the needs of international producers and directors, we will assemble a workforce ready to support overseas creators while contributing to the Japanese film industry and in turn the tourism industry.”
Interest in filming in Japan has skyrocketed over the past decade, drawn by its iconic locations and highly skilled crew. The Japanese government was piloting a TV and film incentive with a minimum budget of $7.5m, but it did not renew the scheme after its deadline passed in June. There is, however, optimism that a new scheme will be announced this summer to remain competitive in the region.
International productions that have shot portions in Japan over the past year include Sony Pictures’ video game adaptation
Gran Turismo and Baltasar Kormakur’s Touch, based on a novel by Olafur Johann Olafsson. Also filmed in the country has been a second season of US crime drama Tokyo Vice for HBO Max and Wim Wenders’ Perfect Days, which is set to play in Competition at Cannes.Cannes Marche unveils first Spotlight Asia programme