Walt Disney Co. said Thursday it will team up with several Japanese studios to produce animated features targeting Asian markets as it moves to adapt to regional tastes, the company said.
Disney's Japanese unit said it will work with Toei Animation, Madhouse and Jinni Animation as part of the deal.
Working with production houses in Japan would also allow the media group take advantage of the country's expertise in animation, making it a testing ground for creating new characters, according to Disney officials in Tokyo.
Disney will introduce TV version of its movie Lilo & Stitch, but the Hawaiian orphan Lilo will be replaced by a Japanese girl called Hanako who lives on a tropical island in Okinawa. Animators are still finalizing what Hanako looks like, but officials said she'll be very Japanese.
The company will also try to tap into Japan's $2.5 billion anime industry by teaming up with animation producer Toei Animation Co Ltd, the maker of Dragonball Z, to make a robot adventure using computer graphics that will air in Japan this year.
Matching content to the market is an absolute must, Paul Candland, president of Walt Disney Japan, said in a statement. The company said it will also consider bringing programs created in Japan to other Asian countries.
Japan is an important market with a huge Disney following, especially because we have a Disney resort here, a company spokesperson Mariko Hisamitsu said, referring to a Tokyo complex that includes Tokyo Disneyland.
The entertainment company's strategy has traditionally been to distribute the same US-made films around the world.