U.S. entertainment giant Walt Disney says it will team up with several Japanese companies to produce animated features targeting Asian markets.

Japan's leading daily, the Nikkei, reports Thursday that Walt Disney's Japanese unit will work with Toei Animation, Madhouse and Jinni Animation as part of the deal.

The Nikkei says the partnerships with Japanese animation studios will enable Burbank California-based company to tap local talent and computer graphics technology to produce programs widely acceptable to different countries and cultures.

It says Disney's distribution network would enable its Japanese partners to expand their overseas audience as they face growing competition from other Asian countries where labor is cheaper.

Disney has its own television channels in more than 100 countries, including Japan, which have helped turn its animated characters such as Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck into global icons.

The report also says Disney and Japan's Madhouse studio will launch a Japanese version of the popular U.S. television series "Lilo and Stitch" later this year.

In another bid to adapt to regional tastes, the report says Disney and Jinni are planning to co-produce a short animation film "Fireball" about robots in the distant future.

Bloomberg financial press reports that Toei Animation shares rose to their highest levels in three weeks, trading on the company's TV production alliance with Disney.


Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Bloomberg.