‘John Wick’ Creator to Make Movies With Japan’s Rakuten

(Bloomberg) -- Rakuten Inc. is planning to make a film with Derek Kolstad, the creator of the “John Wick” movie series, as the Japanese web retailer and mobile provider makes a push into original online content.

The Tokyo-based company is teaming up with The H Collective Inc. to create a movie production house, they said in a statement Thursday. Projects will include Aaron W. Sala’s horror thriller “The Beast,” directed by Christine Crokos, and “The Remainders,” a revenge thriller written by Kolstad.

Rakuten is following in the footsteps of Amazon.com Inc. and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., two e-commerce giants that have invested billions in original streaming content to lure more customers, while taking on Netflix Inc. Amazon’s Japanese unit and Netflix have established solid footholds in the Japanese market. Rakuten, however, is also aiming to distribute content outside its home country.

The joint venture, Rakuten H Collective Studio, will also create music, comics and games “based on the content of the films and selling advertising opportunities through product placement,” it said.

Rakuten has traditionally been a very domestic company, with about 80% of its revenue coming from Japan. But Hiroshi Mikitani, Rakuten’s founder and chief executive officer, has made efforts to boost the company’s brand presence overseas, with a stake in Lyft Inc. and sponsorship of the FC Barcelona soccer and Golden State Warriors basketball teams.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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