Veteran Japan-based production executive Bill Ireton is departing Sony Pictures International Productions to launch his own indie venture. Ireton says the new company will leverage his longstanding industry relationships in Tokyo and Hollywood to develop and produce content for multiple global platforms, primarily based on I.P. from Japan. The new venture, which hasn’t yet revealed its name, will begin operation on Jan. 1, 2023.
Ireton started local production for Warner Bros. in Japan in 2007, releasing 49 movies over a seven-year span, including the Rurou ni Kenshin trilogy; Unforgiven, directed by Sang-il Lee and based on the Clint Eastwood movie; and The Straw Shield, directed by Takashi Miike. He was also involved in the production of Eastwood’s Letters from Iwo Jima, starring Ken Watanabe.
During his four-year stint at Sony, Ireton shepherded production on features including Hell Dogs, starring Junichi Okada under the direction of Masato Harada; I Am Makimoto, starring Sadao Abe; and Violence Action, currently streaming on Netflix.
Said Sanford Panitch, president of Sony Pictures’ Motion Picture Group in a statement Friday: “I want to thank Bill for his work the past few years. The making of Japanese films continues to be a high priority for the company. Bill’s experience and relationships contributed to our continuing efforts in local production in Japan, and we wish him luck with his new venture, which I know is something he’s wanted to do for quite some time.”
Said Ireton: “Making movies with Sony Pictures over the past four years has been a wonderful experience which has helped catapult this thrilling new chapter of my career.”
Ireton’s transition to independent producing comes at a time when global streamers, including Netflix, Disney+ and others, are increasingly bullish on the Japanese live-action scripted space as an avenue for continued growth in the large Japanese domestic market and regionally.