ArrowArtboardCreated with Sketch.Title ChevronTitle ChevronEye IconIcon FacebookIcon LinkedinIcon Mail ContactPath LayerIcon MailMenu BurgerPositive ArrowIcon PrintIcon SearchSite TitleTitle ChevronIcon Twitter
Business deals

Rakuten hopes new movie business will lift profits at other units

Japan group seeks tie-ups with its e-tail, travel and other digital platforms

Rakuten is jumping into the film industry in an attempt to expand the scope of its activities.

TOKYO -- Rakuten, an e-commerce company that has had tremendous success in Japan but receives only 20% of its overall revenue from overseas, is stepping into the movie business in a bid to grow its activities in other sectors and to gain more global recognition.

It has partnered with The H Collective, a movie production company based in California, partly to create intellectual property that Rakuten can adapt into manga, games, character goods and other merchandise that can be sold at its online marketplace.

"Owning our own intellectual property will create a significant impact in expanding our 'ecosystem,'" said Makoto Arima, Rakuten's group executive vice president. In addition, "we want to distribute the movies we produce globally."

Rakuten and The H Collective will each hold 50% in the coming Rakuten H Collective Studio. The two companies in May established Rakuten Distribution, which will sell H Collective films to Japanese theaters.

With the studio, Rakuten also plans to start streaming original programming over its online video platform Rakuten TV, which will offer some movies ahead of rival services.

In addition, Rakuten intends to leverage its future movie library to help its cellphone service provider gain traction. Rakuten enters the carrier business in October and plans to roll out a 5G network sometime in 2020.

It will strive for additional synergies as well. Rakuten Travel, for instance, plans to offer tours to locations featured in the movies. The production of TV commercials based on scenes from Rakuten movies is also under consideration as a way to boost its advertising arm's revenue to 200 billion yen ($1.88 billion) by 2021. That is double what it was in 2018.

Some of The H Collective's works, such as the horror movie "Brightburn" released in the U.S. in May, have attracted attention within the industry. The company also has a strong presence distributing films in China, where the movie market continues to grow.

Rakuten's movie strategy comes after a foray into European soccer. In 2017, Rakuten signed a sponsorship deal with the Spanish soccer team FC Barcelona. Last month, it organized the Rakuten Cup, inviting FC Barcelona and the English team Chelsea FC to play in Japan.

But staging exhibitions is one thing; succeeding with a global strategy that rests on producing global blockbusters is another.

Sponsored Content

About Sponsored Content This content was commissioned by Nikkei's Global Business Bureau.

You have {{numberArticlesLeft}} free article{{numberArticlesLeft-plural}} left this monthThis is your last free article this month

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia;
the most dynamic market in the world.

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia

Get trusted insights from experts within Asia itself.

Get trusted insights from experts
within Asia itself.

Get Unlimited access

You have {{numberArticlesLeft}} free article{{numberArticlesLeft-plural}} left this month

This is your last free article this month

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia; the most
dynamic market in the world
.

Get trusted insights from experts
within Asia itself.

Try 3 months for $9

Offer ends October 31st

Your trial period has expired

You need a subscription to...

  • Read all stories with unlimited access
  • Use our mobile and tablet apps
See all offers and subscribe

Your full access to the Nikkei Asian Review has expired

You need a subscription to:

  • Read all stories with unlimited access
  • Use our mobile and tablet apps
See all offers
NAR on print phone, device, and tablet media