Japanese series “A True Novel” takes place at Upgrade Productions, Shochiku

Upgrade Productions, the production company launched last year by Matt Brodlie and Jonathan Kier, is working on an epic Japanese language TV series.

Cover of the book “A real novel”.
Courtesy of Upgrade Productions

The company has teamed up with venerable Japanese studio Shochiku to produce “A True Novel,” an eight-part adaptation of Mizumura Minae’s 2003 Yomiuri Prize-winning novel. Inspired by Emily Brontë’s “Wuthering Heights,” the tale family is set in the decades following World War II in Japan and the United States.

The series, adapted by screenwriter Sakaguchi Riko (“The Tale of Princess Kaguya”, “Mary and the Witch’s Flower”) will bring to life a love story spanning three generations and told by different characters.

“The extraordinary team at Shochiku, one of Japan’s most innovative and successful studios, is the perfect partner for this show. ‘A True Novel’ is a beautiful story with universal themes. And collaborating with the incredibly talented Sakaguchi Riko is a dream come true. It’s an epic story that appeals to a global audience,” said Brodlie and Kier, co-chairs of Upgrade.

The series will be executive produced by Shochiku’s Akita Shuhei and Brodlie and Kier. Upgrade Productions will be credited as executive producer.

“We are thrilled to adapt this powerful story, based on a prestigious and popular Japanese novel. Collaborating with Upgrade will help us bring this series to the world,” said Shochiku Sales Manager Koyama Meri and Producer from Shochiku, Akita.

The oldest of Japan’s four major studios (founded 127 years ago), Shochiku is a major film producer and distributor, and the premier Kabuki theater producer. It hosted Ozu Yasujiro, Mizoguchi Kenji, Naruse Mikio, and Yamada Yoji, responsible for the world’s longest-running feature film series, “Tora-san.”

Upgrade is backed by Constantin Film and represents sales of titles from production and finance company Bron Studios. It aims to capitalize on the increasingly globalized tastes of audiences by developing and producing local language content around the world.

Brodlie previously served as senior vice president of international content for Disney+, where he led the company’s content strategy in all non-U.S. markets. Before that, he was a director of the original film at Netflix and had previously worked at Paramount and Miramax. Kier was president of Sierra/Affinity, where he handled global sales and distribution of films including “Spotlight,” “Whiplash” and “Drive.” Previously, he oversaw releases for The Weinstein Company and Dimension.

Upgrade’s current development slate also includes the TV series “Twenty Faces”, based on the popular book series written by iconic Japanese writer Edogawa Ranpo, co-produced with The Klockworx; “La Jaula” (“The Cage” in Spanish), an original fantasy horror series co-produced with DeAPlaneta and Minoria Absoluta; and “Sausages,” an original series from famed Australian comedian Ryan Shelton.

Marie A. Evans