Japanese Conglomerate Mitsui Invests in Hollywood

Mitsui & Co., Japan’s second-largest general trading company, is venturing into Hollywood with a minority stake in a media-company incubator.

Mitsui, based in Tokyo, is investing in Los Angeles-based FactoryMade Ventures, the firm that helped create the English language El Rey Network with director Robert Rodriguez, according to a statement today. They are also forging a strategic alliance to develop TV shows, Web series and movies. Financial terms weren’t available.

The deal with FactoryMade follows another Japanese investment in Hollywood -- Softbank Corp.’s $250 million for a minority stake in “Godzilla” producer Legendary Entertainment. Mitsui’s media investments include Kids Station, a popular television network in Japan.

FactoryMade is eager to identify Japanese intellectual property, such as anime, that it can adapt into TV shows or other kinds of programming.

“Obtaining Japanese intellectual property has been an elusive experience for a lot of people in Hollywood,” John Fogelman, FactoryMade’s chief executive officer, said in an interview. “Having a partner the size of Mitsui, one would think we could make the experience a lot more efficient.”

Fogelman and his co-founder, Cristina Patwa, helped make the licensing deals that led to the recent “Transformers” and “Star Trek” movies when they worked at William Morris Agency. Fogelman represented directors Michael Bay and J.J. Abrams at the time.

“By creating successful new media businesses in the U.S., we hope to build another bridge between America’s media industry and that of Japan, which are two leading markets in the world,” said Yasuyuki Uchida, general manager of Mitsui’s media business division. Uchida didn’t disclose the size of the investment.

FactoryMade recently formed a partnership with television producer Mark Burnett and Lucha Libre AAA to form a new Lucha Underground wrestling league.

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