Road Pictures, one of China’s most consistently successful distributors of Japanese anime and international prestige cinema, is preparing a major expansion into the anime IP and physical entertainment business. At the upcoming TIFCOM content market in Tokyo this week, the Beijing-based company will unveil a new venture to license, promote and monetize high-value ACGN properties (animation, comics, games and YA novels). Road Pictures says the new entity, which will go by the name GuGuGuGu in Chinese and Animation Valley in English, will pursue three core activities — content distribution, merchandizing and experiential services — carried out by both online and offline channels, including a network of proprietary IP stores, themed cafes and theme parks.
Road Pictures first caught the international film world’s attention in 2018, when it marketed and distributed Nadine Lebaki’s small-budget arthouse drama Capernaum to a bofo $54 million box-office total in China. In 2023, the company generated two huge hits by marketing and distributing Japanese anime features in China — first with Mokoto Shinkai’s Suzume in March ($110 million/RMB 808 million) and again with Toei Animation’s The First Slam Dunk ($90 million / RMB 660 million) in April. The scale of those successes proves the market demand for ACGN content in China, Road says. The company forecasts that China’s total ACGN content market will be worth $15 billion (RMB 110.58 billion) by 2026, fueled by a fan base forecasted to reach 530 million users.
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GuGuGuGu will kickstart its activities with the opening of a Suzume exhibition in Shanghai near the end of 2023. By the end of 2024, GuGuGuGu plans to be operating eight offline retail outlets across China.
“In addition to providing high-quality ACGN content, products and services, our vision is, together with the ACGN fans, to build a home for them where they can feel supported, appreciated and connected,” says Gongming Cai, CEO of Road Pictures and president of GuGuGuGu.
Adds Jia Cao, chairman of Road Pictures and co-founder of GuGuGuGu: “Our plan for this new venture is to build a premium entertainment brand that will become the go-to destination for all the ACGN fans in China, fulfilling all their needs in one integrated eco-system.”
Financial details were not disclosed, but Road describes the new company as its “most ambitious endeavor to date, mobilizing heavy investment and a dedicated team of entertainment, marketing and retail professionals.”
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