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Sony Pictures TV, Aniplex Consolidate Funimation, France's Wakanim, Australia's Madman Anime Into Joint Venture

posted on by Egan Loo

Sony Pictures Television announced on Tuesday that it and Aniplex are consolidating three Sony-owned anime acquisition and distribution companies — Funimation based in the United States, Wakanim based in France, and Madman Anime Group based in Australia — into one joint venture. Before the consolidation, Funimation was under Sony Pictures Television, while the other two companies were under Sony Music Entertainment Japan's Aniplex.

Colin Decker, who became Funimation's general manager in May, will lead the joint venture, which will acquire and distribute Japanese anime through the three component companies. The joint venture will operate under Funimation's name and will cover 10 languages in 49 countries with about 300 employees.

According to Variety, the first project of the joint venture is Fate/Grand Order Absolute Demonic Front: Babylonia. In addition to Funimation streaming the anime as it airs in Japan, Wakanim and Madman Anime Group's AnimeLab will have a 30-day window of streaming exclusivity in their territories. Variety added that Funimation will have a one-year window of streaming exclusivity on a previously unannounced dubbed version.

Sony Pictures Television Networks acquired a majority stake in North American distributor Funimation for US$143 million in 2017. Funimation ended its content-sharing partnership with Crunchyroll in November 2018, and signed a first-look streaming deal with Hulu. In March, Funimation and Chinese streaming platform bilibili announced a new partnership to jointly acquire anime licenses "over the next few years." Funimation bought Manga Entertainment, which primarily distributes anime in the United Kingdom and Ireland, in May.

Madman Media Group sold the anime division of its business to Aniplex in an AU$35 million (about US$25 million) deal earlier this year, after Aniplex invested in Madman Entertainment in February 2018.

In addition to Funimation, Sony owns the subsidiary anime production companies A-1 Pictures and CloverWorks through Aniplex. Aniplex established a Shanghai-based subsidiary in April with the intent of starting on "full-scale" Chinese animation production, as well as sell merchandise.

Sources: Variety (Todd Spangler), Anime Business Journal (Tadashi Sudo)

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