In an announcement made at Cannes, the new Saudi animation studio Manga Productions revealed that is has teamed up with Japan’s Toei Animation to produce anime film The Journey.
The animation film which amounts to approximately $10m to $15m is based on Saudi folklore will be directed by Shizuno Kobun, whose credits include Godzilla: City on the Edge of Battle.
The collaboration will see Manga and Toei working together on the pre-production and creation of the story and the character design with Japanese and Saudi artists working together, the companies announced in a joint statement.
The co-production stems from a pact between the two companies made in November 2017, one month before Saudi Arabia lifted its 35-year ban on cinemas.
Commenting on the film collaboration, Manga Productions CEO Bukhary Essam, said: “The Journey is a milestone project for Manga. What we are doing here with The Journey is representative of our larger role in creating an ecosystem throughout Saudi Arabia and the Arab world in which young talents are given opportunities and are supported, and high-quality work representing our culture is produced.”
Speaking on the film partnership, Toei Animation Managing Director Shinji Shimizu noted that it was “a great honour to cooperate in making Saudi Arabia’s very first animation film based on the history and culture of ancient Arabia”.
Tetsuro Iwamoto, whose credits include the Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney video game, is the project’s lead character designer, and Japanese composer Kaoru Wada is also attached.
The animation work will be done in Japan and Saudi Arabia. Manga has two branches – one in Riyadh and another in Tokyo – and both will have teams working on this project alongside the Toei team.
Manga Productions is an affiliated company of the Prince Mohammed bin Salman “Misk” Foundation. Manga is fully financing the relatively low-budget project, which will be its biggest-budget project to date. They are holding onto worldwide distribution rights.