The newly established Kantana Japan Corporation has been called a historic joint venture between the Japanese media empire and a leading Thai entertainment company.In this exclusive interview with The Nation, Surachedh Assawaruenganun, chief executive off
Why did your company decide to form a joint venture with Nippon Television Network Corp and Nikkatsu Corp in Tokyo?
I would say that it was quite long story. Early last year, Nikkatsu, which is the most famous filmmaker in Japan, visited our facilities as it explored opportunities to expand its business in Southeast Asia. At that moment, we acknowledged that Kantana Group was not the only option for this big Japanese movie-maker, as there were many potential choices in this region. After that, we held talks with them several times and made sure we shared a global vision, so we decided to establish Kantana Japan Corp in Tokyo last week.
What is your global vision?
Kantana Group wants to be an international entertainment conglomerate, not only in outsourcing services for international film production. Currently, Kantana Group manages more than 10 animated movies a year and offers post-production service to clients from 30 to 40 countries. We want to have deeper collaboration with international media companies for co-production as well as content distribution.
After long communication with Nikkatsu, we found that it wants a foothold in this region via different levels, including outsourcing, co-production and copyright distribution, on top of receiving orders throughout Japan for computer-graphics production in Thailand. Meanwhile, Kantana Group will offer the best-quality service for the Japanese partner, while Nikkatsu will bring more assignments from its clients in Japan.
Given your proven record in terms of regional projects in the past – Wong Kar-wai’s “The Grandmaster”, which was a Best Foreign Language Film Oscar contender, is one example – why do you need this joint-venture partnership?
Under registered capital of 100 million yen [Bt32 million], Nikkatsu holds 51 per cent of the total shares while Kantana Group has 39 per cent and Nippon TV 10 per cent. This is a long-term commitment. We aim to create films, television content and IP together and help each other to sell and distribute the content across the Asia-Pacific region in the near future.
In addition to this long partnership, even before the establishment of the JV, Kantana Group joined forces with Nippon TV to co-produce a Japanese game show called “Tore” aired on the Modernine TV channel since January.
To prepare for this new business from Japan, what needs to be done by Kantana Group?
We foresee that there is more room to grow for film production from pre- to post-production service in this region, as Asean, with about a 600-million population, will become a single market next year. Because the economies in the US, Europe and Japan take time to recover, major companies like entertainment giants are eyeing emerging markets like China, India and Asean countries.
To respond to this increasing demand, the company, not surprisingly, spent more than Bt200 million on new digital equipment, film and TV production technology and facilities for animation last year.
Not only do Nikkatsu and Nippon TV seek business partners in Thailand to explore opportunities to expand their business, but other Japanese media companies are doing the same. What is the benefit they hope to get from the Thai film and TV industry?
Thailand offers many things such as creative ideas, great talent, and good-quality service with affordable costs. I would say that film and TV production costs in the Kingdom average about 30-50 per cent less than in Japan.