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Where Hollywood Meets Anime


Project Anime Logo.1Project Anime is an industry event hosted by the Society for the Promotion of Japanese Animation (SPJA) to serve as a bridge between Japan and the U.S. Project Anime took place at The Westin Bonaventure Hotel in Los Angeles on July 2-3, 2019 and is held prior to the annual jam-packed convention, Anime Expo. The programming was split in two tracks: “Where Hollywood Meets Anime” and “The Growth of Anime Events” with an additional roundtable section. The event featured a wide range of industry speakers from the leading companies.

The keynote speaker for the exclusive event was EVP Brand Development & Consumer Products Elie Dekel from Legendary Entertainment. During his time at Legendary Entertainment, Dekel has been involved with such films as Godzilla: King of the Monsters and Pokémon Detective Pikachu. Prior to Legendary, Dekel held senior positions at Saban, CAA, and FOX dealing with such iconic properties in Power Rangers, Dragon Ball Z, and Digimon.

Elie Dekel
Elie Dekel

Dekel detailed some past properties he had been linked to. “Saban Entertainment had Power Rangers and X-Men. Saban Entertainment became part of FOX. Now Hasbro has Power Rangers and Disney has the FOX properties. In 2007, at FOX we had the rights to Dragon Ball. What we were doing in the film didn’t sit well with Japan. We had differences in business and creative culture. For Detective Pikachu, it took 7 years to talk and make.”

With the success of the giant robot films such as Transformers, Power Rangers, and Pacific Rim; Legendary Entertainment is in development for a live-action movie adaptation of the popular 80s mecha anime known as Gundam. The company has also acquired the live-action movie rights to a current popular anime that has become a global sensation and taken the world by storm in My Hero Academia. Dekel highlighted, “We tried to get the rights to Gundam back at Saban. Sunrise Inc. and Legendary are really trying to get this right. We are happy where we are at. We see the Gundam opportunity to expand. We are excited to work with Sunrise and Bandai. For My Hero Academia, it’s a phenomenon with a great story. Legendary is taking a great responsibility in paying homage to great anime products. We want to do it right for the creators, fans, but also want to bring in new audiences. We also have the Pacific Rim anime. It was originally supposed to be an anime. Netflix picked it up for 2 seasons. It’s one of the biggest budgeted projects. That should come into market in late 2020.”

Project Anime Panel
Project Anime Panel

“Where Hollywood Meets Anime” Track sessions are below:

How to Pitch to Japan:
Producer Geneva Wasserman (Project Z Entertainment) and Sr. Director, Media Unit Kaz Sasajima (Sumitomo Corporation of Americas).

Adapting Japanese Properties for a Western Audience:
Creative Executive Maya Kambe (Paramount Pictures), VP of International Productions Tony Ishizuka (Sony Pictures Entertainment), and David Uslan (Uslan Entertainment).

How Anime and Manga Happen in Japan:
Sr. Director, Media Unit Kaz Sasajima (Sumitomo Corporation of Americas) and Director of Publishing Services Ben Applegate (Penguin Random House).

The Role of the Independent Producer:
Head of Studio Eric Calderon (Octopie), David Uslan (Uslan Entertainment), and Manager of Strategy and Business Development Michael Masukawa (Secret Location).

Creative Differences: When East Meets West:
Head of Studio Eric Calderon (Octopie) and Chief Creative Officer Chuck Williams (Marza Animation Planet).

Merchandise and Anime:
Head of Toy Acquisitions Vincent Imaoka (Hasbro) and Director of Production Marlene Sharp (LEVEL-5 abby).

U.S. Manga Industry White Paper:
Dallas Middaugh (Nonlinear World).

Anime Movies in Japan:
CEO Ko Mori (Eleven Arts), Publicist Deborah Gilels, President Dave Jesteadt (GKIDS), and Sr. Director of Programming Brian Deulley (Fathom Events).

For a detailed description of each speaker and the panels from Project Anime, please visit

To recap all the stellar industry panels and the full schedule of the 2019 Anime Expo from July 4-7 at the Los Angeles Convention Center, please explore

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