JEDDAH: The Saudi-Japanese anime film “The Journey” has had its Hong Kong premiere on the sidelines of the Asia MENA Culture Technology Economic Collaboration Forum.
The film, co-produced by Saudi Arabia’s Manga Productions, a subsidiary of the Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Misk Foundation, and Japan’s Toei Animation, is the first animated collaboration between the two Asian countries.
The premiere on Dec. 19 was attended by government representatives, Middle Eastern diplomats, entertainment industry leaders and journalists from Chinese news outlets.
“The Journey” has been shown in several Asian countries, including Malaysia, Japan and Indonesia.
As part of the premiere and in a step to strengthen the relationship between Saudi Arabia and China, Manga Productions and Hong Kong film production company Salon Films signed a memorandum of understanding to provide internship opportunities for young Saudi talent in distribution, film production and film financing.
Commenting on this partnership, Essam Bukhary, CEO of Manga Productions and executive producer of “The Journey,” said: “We aim to build a unique friendship with our partners in China within the distribution market in the creative content field and the development of talents. Multiple Saudi generations have enjoyed Chinese films, and it is time for us to share Saudi content, starting with ‘The Journey,’ which was able to record outstanding successes, leaving a Saudi footprint in the creative content industry in various world markets.”
Manga Productions, Salon Films and Digital Daylight Animation have agreed an exclusive deal to distribute “The Journey” in Asia.
The film is also available on 46 platforms and in five languages across the Middle East, North Africa, Europe, North America and Japan.
Salon Films Chairman Fred Wang said: “We are delighted to be part of the Asian distribution of ‘The Journey’ and to share this unique anime film with audiences in different Asian territories. We believe more exciting and innovative content will be produced during the next few years with more collaborations between Asia and the Middle East.”
The anime film is directed by Kobun Shizuno, whose credits include “Godzilla: City on the Edge of Battle.”
In the Mandarin version of “The Journey,” world-renowned actor Jackie Chan fills the role of Abdul-Muttalib, while Wang Chen-Hua plays the hero Aws.
“The Journey” was inspired by civilizations of the Arabian Peninsula and ancient Arab stories. More than 300 people worked on the film, with the Saudi team mainly involved in illustration, directing, producing and fact-checking.
The film gained positive reactions from international audiences and won the Septimius Award in the Netherlands for best experimental film of 2022.