IMJ Group subsidiary, IMJ Entertainment (IMJE), has established a feature film and visual contents company as a 50:50 joint venture with film and TV producer Dub Inc.

The new company, Smoke, will be headed by Dub CEO Yasushi Utagawa, who will serve as producer on feature films developed under the company.

The deal was made through Dub subsidiary Alex, which was incorporated before the investment. In addition to production, Dub is involved in casting, marketing and rights acquisitions. Subsidiary Alex handles project development, distribution and sales.

Smoke's first order of business is the exclusive signing of writer-director Yoshihiro Nakamura, who helmed surreal indie hit The Foreign Duck, The Native Duck And God, released last June.

The Foreign Duck co-writer Ken'ichi Suzuki, who scripted Hideo Nakata's Dark Water, will also join Smoke's roster.

The deal follows IMJE's ongoing strategy of signing writer-directors as part of its talent roster, which includes Kentaro Otani (Nana), Isshin Inudo (Maison De Himiko) and Sabu (Drive).

Last week IMJE announced that it would absorb feature and TV commercials production subsidiary Studio Swan in an effort to consolidate group know-how and streamline management. The merger goes into effect February 1. Set up in 2005, Studio Swan will remain an IMJE label.

Swan Studios' Kids opens simultaneously in Japan, Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan on February 2 with local distribution through Toei.

Established in 2003, IMJE is involved in production of feature films, music videos, games and talent representation.